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The Qur'an Commentary of Sayyid 'Alí Muhammad, the Báb:
Doctoral dissertation

by Todd Lawson

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Chapter 2

Part i: The Tafsír súrat al-baqara


It is of some significance that the first major work by the Bab is a commentary on the Súrat al-baqara, a súra sometimes regarded by exegetes as "the Qur'an in miniature" because in it are found many of the same concerns, ordinances, conceits and images found throughout the Book. A commentary on this súra by any given author would therefore tend to reveal the way he would approach the entire Work. It may be also that the Bab had intended to produce a commentary on the whole Qur'an at this time. As has been mentioned, he is said to have later produced no less than nine complete tafásír during his incarceration in Azerbaijan. Why he would have suspended such a project at this earlier date is open to speculation. We do know, however, that it was shortly after the completion of the commentary on the first juz' of the Qur'an that Mullá Husayn Bushrú'í made his visit to Shiraz, shortly after which the Bábí "movement" may be said to have been born. Such a dramatic occurrence might possibly have had the effect of deflecting the Bab's attention from such a project to concentrate upon newer and more important developments. One of these developments was the composition of another tafsír, which is of such a startlingly different nature than this earlier work, that they might be thought to have been written by two different authors. The Tafsír súrat Yúsuf will be examined in some detail in Part ii. It appears that it was the first work written after the commentary on al-Baqara. Its contents - which include in the course of things, a kind of commentary on most of the Qur'an - suggest that the Bab's inclination to comment on the entire Book might have been excercised in it. Whatever the case may be, the Tafsír súrat al-baqara provides invaluable information about the development of the Bab's religious ideas.

This thesis "breaks ground" by studying a work by the Bab which has been habitually ignored by persons writing on the Bábí religion. There has been a tendency to regard the work which is the subject of Part ii, Tafsír súrat Yúsuf, as the first work of any significance written by the Bab.[229] Through the invaluable research of Denis MacEoin on the sources for Bábí doctrine and history, it has become clear that the Bab's Tafsír súrat al-baqara enjoys a unique and heretofore unappreciated significance for a study of the Bábí religion. Furthermore, because it was written during the earliest period of the Bab's literary activity, MacEoin thinks that it is much less likely to have been corrupted by partisans of the later Bahá'í/Azalí dispute.[230]

Since this tafsír is the only extended work of the Bab's written before May 1844 which is still in our possession, and was begun by him almost six months before the announcement of his earliest claims, it may be regarded as of unique importance in providing us with written evidence of the development of the Bab's thought in the critical period leading up to that turning point.[231]

Insofar as this first major work was also a tafsír, its interest goes beyond the confines of a study of a specific heresy to engage with the greater Islamic tradition itself, on the common ground of the Qur'an. The work first became known in the West through E.G. Browne, who discussed it and the circumstances under which he received a copy, in an article written in 1892. It had been sent to him by Mírzá Yahyá Subh-i Azal who had received it from a scribe in Tehran.[232] (This manuscript is described below.) Azal, like his half-brother Bahá'u'lláh, had been a follower of the Bab from the early days. As a result of disagreements between himself and Bahá'u'lláh, he became the leader of the Azalí faction of the Bábís. Browne received a great number of Bábí manuscripts from him.

In this article, Browne quotes a passage from the Táríkh-i jadíd which recounts the conversion of the young Shaykhí Mullá Husayn Bushrú'í to the cause of the Bab in May 1844. While Mullá Husayn was visiting the Bab in the latter's home, he discovered a commentary on the Súrat al-baqara. Reading some of it, he was impressed by the merits of the work and asked his host who its author was. The Bab said that he in fact had written the work. This story relates that Mullá Husayn was puzzled by one of the passages in the work: "the explanation of the inmost of the inmost" (tafsír-i bátin-i bátin).[233] Mullá Husayn is reported to have said:

This appeared to me to be an error, and I remarked, "Here it should be 'the inmost,' and they have written 'the inmost of the inmost.'" "What can I say?" [the Bab] answered, "the author of the Commentary lays claim to even more than this of greatness, glory, and knowledge. Consider the passage attentively." I did so, and said, "It is quite correct. But I am wearied. Do you read and I will listen." He read for a time, and then, as men are wont, I said, "It is enough. Do not trouble yourself further." [234]

While this account is important for the history of the Tafsír súrat al-baqara, it raises the question of why Mullá Husayn should have been stopped by such an expression. The tafsír does in fact employ it, although Browne was unable to locate it in his manuscript (see the previous note). It also seems logical to assume that Mullá Husayn would have been quite conversant with such language. The writings of both Shaykh Ahmad and Sayyid Kázim contain, as will be seen, many allusions not only to the bátin al-bátin, but also to the bátin bátin al-bátin, záhir al-bátin, and so forth. The young Mullá may have wanted to say that this particular passage deals only with the bátin, and should not therefore, have been referred to as an explanation of the "inmost of the inmost". It may be that the passage was left out of Browne's manuscript because it was thought to damage the credibility of the Bab.

Several manuscripts of the Tafsír súrat al-baqara are known to exist. MacEoin gives the following list (the information in parenthesis is added):

1 Cambridge Browne F.8 (juz'1)

2 London British Library Or. 5277 (juz' 2)

3 Paris Bib. Nat. 5780 (juz'1)

4 Paris B.N. 5805 (juz' 2)

5 Paris B.N. 6610 (juz' 2)

6 Haifa

7 Tihrán Bahá'í archives 6004.C

8 Tihrán Bahá'í archives 6012.C

9 Tihrán Bahá'í archives 6014.C (juz' 1)

Numbers 3-6 are in the hand of Ridwán `Alí, the son of Mírzá Yahyá Subh-i Azal, who had been appointed by the Bab as the head of the movement.[235] Number 5 is a commentary on the second juz' of the Qur'an, i.e., approximately the second half of the Tafsír súrat al-baqara. Another manuscript of this second half of the commentary is in the British Library, (number 2 above); the manuscript of the first half is numbered B.L. Or. 5276. As MacEoin says, this manuscript is also in the hand of Ridwán `Alí. To this list should be added the important Leiden manuscript, to be described below,[236] and a manuscript of the work, as yet uncatalogued, in the Princeton "Bábí Collection". This last item bears a provisional shelf number 268 and is dated 1328 [1910]. It is bound in one volume with another manuscript entitled Kitáb al-jazá' min nuqtat al-bá'.

It is important to consider briefly the problem of the second half of the Tafsír súrat al-baqara. MacEoin's only definite statement about it is the following:

The second half of this tafsír was completed in the course of the year 1260/1844, and was among the works in the Báb's possession when he performed the hajj in the latter part of that year. . . . it was among a number of books stolen from him while en route to Mecca.[237]

The Bab made a list of these stolen works in his Kitáb al-fihrist, written in 1261/1845 in Búshihr after he returned from this pilgrimage. This list apparently accounts for all of the Bab's writings up to that time, and is the basis for the above statement by MacEoin. In this list, reference is made to two commentaries on the súrat al-baqara: one "in the manner of the commentary on the Súra Yúsuf"; the other is described as being "from the second half to the end."[238] It is not impossible that this stolen manuscript of the commentary on the second half of al-baqara had already been copied. This would account for the survival of the work in the two manuscripts mentioned above, as well as another (see below). Elsewhere, MacEoin in commenting on the problem of dating the commentary on the first juz', remarks that one of the dates given is "certainly corrupt since there is evidence that the second part of the tafsír must have been completed before that date."[239] It is of some interest to notice that Nicolas makes no mention at all of a Tafsír súrat al-baqara in his list of the Bab's earliest works.[240] MacEoin, however, has little confidence in this list.

The provenance of this second half of the Tafsír al-baqara, is thus not as certain as the work singled out for this study. While three manuscripts of it do exist, as well as a few pages of commentary on the first two verses of the second juz' (2:142-3), it was thought premature to include it as part of a detailed study, because of the uncertainty surrounding it. In any case, it will be seen that the manuscripts consulted here offer ample information about the Bab's exegetical concerns and method. Nevertheless, a brief description of the manuscripts of the tafsír on the second juz' is offered here.

B.L. 5277

MacEoin was apparently unaware that B.L. 5277 is in fact a manuscript of the second part of al-baqara. It is in the hand of Ridwán `Alí, dated "Thursday 29 July 1897" corresponding to 26 Safar 1315 (f.163b). It is not a commentary on the complete second juz' which begins at 2:142 and ends at 2:252, but goes only as far as 2:214. It is bound with B.L. 5276, which is a manuscript by the same scribe, of the first juz'. Of B.L. 5277, ff.1b-9b is something of an introduction; the commentary proper begins at the bottom of 9b with the citation of 2:142 and ends at f.163a. On f.1b, above the basmala is written: al-jild al-thání min sharh súrat al-baqara. The first lines of the introduction read: al-hamdu li-lláh al-ladhí bi-'amrihi talajlajat al-láhútíyát bi-kaynúníyátihá la-há bi-há ilay-há. At f.7a we read: "You who look to these comments (al-ishárát)! Know that the Qur'an has an unlimited number of degrees (marátib) [of interpretation]. Nay, rather at any moment there may be for any given letter of it a variety of explanations according to the diversity obtaining in the kingdom of command and creation (malakút al-amr wa'l-khalq)." It is not known whether this is being addressed to a specific person, or serves simply as a general statement. In any case, this introduction is included in the next manuscript.

B.N. 6610

MacEoin expressed doubt about the description of B.N. 6610 as being the second part of the commentary.[241] This manuscript includes a number of works, but at f.184 b there begins in fact, a commentary on the second juz' of the Qur'an which covers 2:142 to 2:222, exceeding by a few verses the scope of the above manuscript. The colophon (f. 390b) gives the date of 22 Ramadán 1330 [5 September 1912] and Cyprus as the place where it was copied. The scribe signs himself as "Saint John" a name obviously adopted by Ridwán `Alí, inasmuch as the writing seems to be unmistakably his. Many of the Qur'an passages are rubricated. Ff. 184b-191b is an introduction identical with the one found in Or. 5277. The commentary proper begins on f. 194a ad 2:142, the last verse to be commented upon, 2:222, is found on f.390a.

B.N. 5805

B.N. 5805 is similar to B.L. 5277. It is transcribed by Ridwán `Alí and dated Thursday, 1 September 1897, Larnaca. The first line is of some interest: al-jild al-thání min tafsír bátin al-bátin min súrat al-baqara min al-Qur'án. Such an opening is obviously conditioned by the above account from the Taríkh-i jadíd. The commentary on 2:142, the first verse of the second juz', begins on f. 10b, and the last verse to be commented upon (2:214, as above) is found on f.178b. The commentary is preceded by the above-mentioned Introduction.

In addition to these three manuscripts, a commentary on the first two verses of the second juz' is found in the Majmú`ah described below. However, there is no introductory material, the commentary being introduced only with: qad anshá' `alayhi al-salám li'l-juz' al-thání min al-Qur'án (p.377). The actual commentary appears to be identical with the material found in the above three manuscripts. The introductory sentence seems to imply that the Bab began this part of the commentary but never completed it.

Manuscripts Consulted for this Study

Four photocopies of manuscripts of the commentary on the first full juz' of the Qur'an have been used for this study: numbers 1 and 9 above, a privately published (xerox) in a limited edition, and the aforementioned incomplete Leiden manuscript. For the most part, these manuscripts agree remarkably with one another; a few major differences will be referred to in due course.

[1] Cambridge Browne F8. (C) This manuscript was described by Browne in 1892. Browne acquired a copy in 1890 through a Captain Young from Subh-i Azal. The manuscript is one of several which were copied in Iran, presumably for Browne himself. It consists of 110 folios, measuring 19 x 11.5 centimetres, with nineteen lines per page.[242] It contains a short commentary on the Fátiha (ff. 2b-3a), and the commentary on all the verses of al-Baqara up to verse 141, in other words, the first juz' of the Qur'an. It is the least "pietistic" of the four manuscripts used here, in that it rarely makes use of such doxographical formulae as al-salám `alayhi after the name of `Alí or other holy figures, although the abbreviation for this, an independent `ayn, frequently appears.

[2] Tehran Bahá'í archives 6014.C. (Baq.) This manuscript consists of 296 pp. of very legible script, seventeen lines per page. It has been reproduced as an appendix to this thesis. There is no indication of the date it was copied. In addition to covering the Fátiha and verses 1-141 of al-baqara, it contains an introduction (pp.1-6) important for establishing the date of its original composition by the Bab:

O my God! Thou knowest that on the evening before I began this book I saw, in a dream, the Holy Land (ard al-muqaddas, i.e., Karbalá') come bit by bit before my house and rise in the air and stand immobile. From there came the news of the death of the great scholar, my teacher (mu`allamí, i.e. Sayyid Kázim Rashtí). I told a few people of my dream before this news had otherwise reached them.[243]

Sayyid Kázim died on the 11th of Dhú'l-Hijja 1259/ 2-3 January 1844.[244] It is likely therefore, that the Bab began this commentary sometime near this date. The last page of the manuscript indicates that the commentary was written without interruption (mutawálíyan), and gives the date of completion as Dhú'l-Hijja 1260 [i.e, December 1844]. This is probably a scribal error. The other manuscripts described here give no dates of any kind. The Princeton manuscript mentioned above, agrees curiously with the date given here.[245] It is not of course impossible that this date is correct, but it seems very unlikely. Three of the manuscripts examined by MacEoin give the date of completion as Muharram 1260 [Jan.-Feb. 1844].[246] Given the importance of the year 1260 in Bábí history, it may have been that preoccupation with this year led to its being unconsciously reproduced by the copyists of both manuscripts. This problem requires further research.

[3] This item (henceforth I) is part of a compilation of a limited edition of privately published works of the Bab entitled Majmú`ah-yi áthár-i Hazrat-i A`lá, #69, published by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Iran, 133 Badí`/1976. It is not really an edition, but rather a collection of handwritten copies of various works by the Bab xeroxed and bound for limited distribution. The Tafsír is found on pp.156-377. Other short tafásír may be found in this volume as well.[247]

[4] Leiden Arabic ms. Or. 4971.[248] (L) This item apparently originated in Shiraz and contains several separate works of the Bab, one of which (#8) is part of the Tafsír súrat al-baqara. MacEoin has described the history of the Leiden Bábí collection in his Sources, and basing himself on Browne's description of these Arabic manuscripts said that this fragment contains only the portion of the commentary from verses 70-94.[249] An examination of the manuscript shows, however, that it contains most of the commentary from verses 34-136, or approximately one half of the work. Furthermore, the manuscript is in a very clear naskh and is fully vowelled, adding greatly to its value. Beyond this, the handwriting is the same as that found in item #9 of the same collection, which is a manuscript of the Bab's Sahífa bayn al-haramayn, dated Jumádá II 1263/May 1847, indicating that it is probably the oldest copy of the work extant. The pagination adopted for reference to this manuscript is that of a xerox copy made from a microfilm (pp.1-27).

Part i: Chapter 1


The heart of all Shí`ism centers on the strong veneration of the first Imám, `Alí ibn Abí Tálib as the guardian, protector, and friend of those who have acknowledged his true station as the immediate successor of the Prophet Muhammad. For this reason he is known as walí, and the quality of this authority is waláya. There is in Shí`ism no notion more fundamental than this. The study of this commentary by the Bab begins, therefore, with an examination of the way in which the subject of waláya is treated. It will be seen, perhaps not surprisingly, that the idea was just as central to the Bab's thought, as it is to Shí`ism in general. It will be seen that belief is conditioned by the degree to which one accepts the waláya of `Alí, and after him the Imáms, to the extent that a deed, no matter how meritorious, is unacceptable unless it has been performed by one who has fully confessed the truth of this waláya. Moreover, this waláya has existed from eternity, much like the so-called "Muhammadan light", and numbers among those who have recognized it the prophets Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. As an eternal principle, it remains an imperative for all men at all times; through acceptance or rejection of this spiritual authority, man determines the fate of his soul.

The radical interpretation of several passages in the Súrat al-baqara as speaking directly to the subject of waláya is not an innovation of the Bab's, but has characterized a strong tendency in Shí`í exegesis from the earliest times. What is of interest here is that such a commentary was written by one who was not a member of the ulama class, but rather a young merchant. The nature of the commentary shows that there was a need to reassert or "revalorize" this cardinal Shí`í doctrine. Why such a need was felt at this particular time and within the Iranian merchant class, has been discussed at length by scholars concerned with the social history of late eighteenth and early nineteenth century Iran. The following description will illustrate the degree to which this need was felt, and the consequences it had for the interpretation of scripture.


The subject of waláya is introduced very early in the tafsír where reference is made to the Absolute Waláya (waláyatuhu al-mutlaqa) of `Alí, although the statement is not free of ambiguity. The statement comes in the course of the Bab's commentary on the second verse of the Fátiha: Praise be to God, the Lord of the Worlds. The verse is said to be the book (kitab) of `Alí, in which God has placed all the principles (ahkám) of Absolute Waláya pertaining to it. It is called here, the Paradise of the Inclusive Unity (jannat al-wáhidíya), whose protection has been reserved for all those who affirm `Alí's waláya.[250]

In this very brief statement certain important terms are introduced, which play a key role throughout the rest of the tafsír. Apart from the word waláya (guardianship, friendship), the designation wáhidíya recurs over and over again throughout the work. It appears to be descriptive of one of the degrees of divinity which constitute the whole hierarchical metaphysical structure of the world. It is the degree immediately inferior to the divine Exclusive Unity (ahadíya). This hierarchy will be discussed at length in a separate chapter. Suffice it here to say that the Absolute Waláya represents a theoretical position, at least one remove from the Ultimate.

The choice of the word principles (ahkám) has several connotations. In his short introductory sentence to the tafsír on the Fátiha, the Bab characterizes this opening chapter of the Qur'an as containing seven clear verses (ayát muhkamát). The hermeneutic polarities of mutashábihát/muhkamát represent one of the oldest concerns of tafsír in general, and have been the cause of much speculation on the part of exegetes of all schools and attitudes. The primary idea is that the Qur'an contains both ambiguous and unambiguous verses. At the most basic level these are thought to be divided between straightforward legal prescriptions and the rest of the Book.[251] So understood, the designation of the verses of the Fátiha as unambiguous, strongly suggests that the Bab read them as having a positive and binding relationship with a true understanding of the Book. Seen in this light, his statement that verse 2 concerns the Absolute Waláya of `Alí must be taken as divine law, binding upon the believer in the same way as legal prescriptions for the terms of inheritance, or even prayer and fasting, are obligatory.[252]

At verse 3, the subject of Absolute Waláya is once again introduced. Here the quranic statement those who perform the prayer is said by the Bab to imply general obedience (al-idh`án) to Muhammad and his Trustees (awsiyá) and his progeny (nabt) through the Most Great Absolute Waláya (al-waláyat al-mutlaqa al-kubrá).[253] While in the previous statement this Absolute Waláya was linked with `Alí alone, here it includes all of the Imáms. In the same section waláya is identified with tawhíd, the affirmation of the divine unity. The Bab says that the act of prayer "from beginning to end" is the "form of affirming divine uniqueness" (súrat al-tafríd), the "temple (haykal) of tawhíd", and the "shape (shabah) of waláya".[254] This being the case, only the actual bearers[255] of waláya are able to perform it properly because it is the foremost (awwal) station of distinction between Beloved (mahbúb, i.e., God) and the lover (habíb, in this case Muhammad and the Imáms). The Family of God are the true bearers of the meaning of the divine love mentioned in the famous hadíth qudsí: "I was a hidden treasure and desired to be known, therefore I created mankind in order to be known." This love (mahabba) was manifested (tajallá) by God to them by means of their own selves (la-hum bi-him), to such a degree of exclusivity that this divine love subsists only through them, and pure servitude appears only in them.[256]

The Bab continues to say that the Family of God (ál alláh) is the location (maháll) of all servitude and all lordship (`ubúdíyát and rubúbíyát), implying that it is through their act of servitude that they have been invested with the rank of lordship in relation to others. Whoever then, confesses the truth of their waláya in the "region of servitude" (suq` al-`ubúdíya), has in fact performed the prayer according to all the stations of the Merciful One. And he who performs the prayer and "lifts the 'veils of glory' and enters the glorious house (bayt al-jalál), such a one will dwell under the protection (zill) of their waláya."[257]

At 2:24, one of the tahaddí or "challenge" verses, Absolute Waláya is explained negatively, as not being acknowledged by those who were challenged to bring a súra comparable to those in the Qur'an.[258] In short, those guilty of kufr (disbelief), are all those who have failed to recognize the Absolute Waláya of `Alí. Inasmuch as these unbelievers are said to be those who have been given the love of Abú Bakr (mahabbat al-awwal) which is in fact a Fire ,[259] it seems that "absolute" refers not first of all to any philosophical or metaphysical absoluteness, but rather to exclusivity. That is, true waláya cannot be shared during a given period of time. In this connection, it may be added that there appears to be no difference in the quality of the waláya born by any of the Imáms. At verse 60, the water which gushed forth from the rock at twelve different places after Moses struck it with his staff, is said to represent the waláya of all the Imáms. The Bab says that although the water issued from these various places, it was in fact the same water.[260]


A cognate notion of Absolute Waláya is the Waláya of God, waláyat al-haqq. It is first encountered at 2:34, which is, one of the longer commentaries on an individual verse in the tafsír. Explaining the command of God to the angels: Bow yourselves to Adam !, the Bab says that the esoteric interpretation (tafsír al-bátin) understands the speaker of the command to be not God but Muhammad, while the angels are the seeds of all created things (dharr al-ashyá' fí mashhad al-úlá), a reference to the yawm al-mitháq [7:172].[261] The act of prostration is the confession of servitude to the waláya of God, which is equated with allegiance to `Alí, and the disavowal of all else.

Adam, furthermore, is none other than `Alí, and Iblís is none other than Abú Bakr. At this level the waláya is also characterized as the waláya of the Exclusive Unity belonging to `Alí (waláyat al-ahadíya li-`Alí). The entire drama, it should be emphasized, occurs in pre-existence. Thus Abú Bakr (almost always referred to as Abú al-Dawáhí "Father of Iniquities") is the symbol of primordial kufr, just as `Alí is the symbol of primordial ímán. The angels as mentioned above, are taken as the seeds or potential of all created things destined to develop into actuality. They are also referred to as the pre-existent forms (ashbáh) and the shadows (azilla).

The primordial drama had its historical re-enactment or analogue on the day of al-Ghadír when Muhammad appointed `Alí as his successor. At that time the angels were Salmán, al-Jundub and al-Miqdad, the stalwart supporters of `Alí.[262]

At verse 62, the term Absolute Waláya is associated with the entire Family of God, because they are sanctified servants who do nothing of their own wills, but rather the will of God.

Surely they that believe, and those of Jewry, and the Christians, and those Sabaeans, whoso believes in God and the Last Day, and works righteousness - - their wage awaits them with their Lord, and no fear shall be on them, neither shall they sorrow. [2:62]

The works of righteousness mentioned in this verse therefore are described as being all included in the act of recognizing (i`tiráf) their Absolute Waláya, and their wage awaits them with `Alí. In the context of the verse itself, the suggestion is that even non-Muslims are implicated in the reponsibility of recognizing `Alí. This may offer a further indication of the way in which "absolute" (mutlaqa) is to be understood. It should be noted that the last phrase of the verse is repeated at 10:62 ,where it is specifically the "friends of God" (awliyá' alláh) who will neither grieve nor sorrow.[263]

At verse 83, the term Universal Waláya occurs.

And when We took compact the Children of Israel: 'You shall not serve any save God; and to be good to parents, and the near kinsman, and to orphans, and to the needy; and speak good to men, and perform the prayer, and pay the alms.' then you turned away, all but a few of you, swerving aside.

The Bab says that God is speaking about Histaking compact with all created things in the eight paradises, to recognize the waláya of `Alí.[264] The first of these paradises is the Depth of Unity (lujjat al-wahda), and is characterized by the command: You shall not serve any save God "without any reference".[265] In the second paradise the compact was taken by means of recognizing the Universal Waláya (al-waláyat al-kullíya) of the parents , i.e., Muhammad and `Alí who are respectively, the symbols of universal fatherhood and motherhood. Such recognition, the Bab says, is in reality the good mentioned in the verse, because to do good means to do good to all according to what each merits. The good which these particular parents deserve has only been hinted at, because were the Bab to openly (bi'l-tasríh) describe it, the prattlers (mubtilún) would doubt it.[266]

Throughout the tafsír there are numerous statements which indicate that the Absolute Waláya is in fact the same as waláya per se. The following presents, in as systematic a form as possible, the various aspects of this all-important notion and includes material related to the ideas of Prophethood (nubúwa), Messengership (risála), Trusteeship (wasíya) and Leadership (imáma).


The idea that waláya can be either true or false may be traced to the Qur'an itself. In such verses as 8:73, for example, reference is made to the unbelievers who are friends (awliyá') of one another, or 62:6 where the Jews are criticized for their claim to be the friends of God, apart from other men . The two opposing groups, hizb Alláh [5:56] and hizb al-Shaytán [58:19], represent a basic division which provides at least theoretical support for the ideas presented in this tafsír. This distinction between two fundamentally opposed groups is most evident in Medinese súras and has been seen to be related to the different concerns which faced the Prophet after his departure from Mecca, where waláya was purely God-oriented.[267]

The figure of `Alí is presented as the bearer, par excellence, of this True Waláya, although it has already been emphasized that the quality of this waláya is not changed, regardless of who its (rightful) bearer might be. As we have seen, True Waláya, or the Waláya of God (waláyat al-haqq), had its beginning in pre-eternity, or pre-existence when the dharr of all things were commanded to acknowledge the authority of `Alí. It was also at this time that its opposite, the Waláya of the False One (waláyat al-bátil) acquired potential existence. Just as `Alí is the bearer of the True Waláya, Abú Bakr is seen as the bearer of False Waláya.

Such a statement is of course indicative of the milieu in which the Bab was writing. It is remarkable that this kind of denigration of important Sunní personalities is absent from the Bab's Tafsír súrat Yúsuf, written shortly after this commentary. The theme is an old and definitive one in Shí`í literature, and should be viewed as a standard element of religious vocabulary, and one which lends concrete and immediate meaning to various passages in the Qur'an read in this Shí`í milieu. Akhbárí Qur'an interpretation took for granted the perfidy of the first three Caliphs, as did other schools of Shí`í exegesis. By repeating such things, then, the Bab is no more than a child of his time and place.

One of the earliest occurrences of the idea of False Waláya is at verse 58:

And when We said, 'Enter this township, and eat easefully of it wherever you will, and enter in at the gate, prostrating, and say, Unburdening; We will forgive you your transgressions, and increase the good-doers.' [2:58]

Because the commentary on this verse contains several typical and significant elements, and because it is relatively concise, it is reproduced here in its entirety.[268]

That which is intended (wa'l-murád) bytownship is the depth of the Exclusive Unity and the gate (báb) is `Alí.[269]

Verily the Messenger of God has said: "I am the city of knowledge and `Alí is its gate."[270]

God commanded all people (ahl al-imkán wa'l-akwán) toenter the township of the sign of nubúwa of Muhammad through allegiance to `Alí (bi-waláyat `Alí) prostrating to God and magnifying Him and saying at the time of their confession of the waláya of `Alí "Unburdening" (hittatun). That is to say: "[Give us] freedom (bará'atun) from allegiance to the First (waláyat al-awwal) and his followers, may God curse them."

We will forgive you your transgressions resulting from allegiance to the False One (waláyat al-bátil) and we will increase foryou the knowledge (ma`rifa) of the secrets (asrár) of `Alí . . . And the Muslim is the one who submits, with his whole being, to him (`Alí).

God has put in all created things a sign (áya) of His own self (`an nafsihi) and a city (madína) of His prophet(`an nabíhi). And He fashioned the form of `Alí with His hand at (`alá) the gate of the city. And He commanded those who attain [the gate] to prostrate to him through the removal of veils and and allusions (bi-kashf al-subuhát wa'l-ishárát) and to enter through this gate by renouncing all but him (`Alí).

He who obeys his Lord in these indications (ishárát) is the one who says Unburdening. And verily God will forgive him to the extent that His knowledge encompasses [the sin of the one who says Unburdening ] and He willincrease , through His power, his potential as much as such is possible in the contingent world.[271] There is no ceasing of the bounty of God. And he who enters through this gate the Merciful will permit him whatever he wants.[272] And to the grace of God there is no cease. And in this gate he wants only what the Merciful wants. And therefore, at the time of the Will, the object of the Will is founded, without rupture (bi-lá fasl). That is one of the bounties of God upon the good-doers.

The Imám al-Báqir said: "We are the gate of your repentance/forgiveness (hittatikum)."[273]

[The Bab:] I testify that they [all the Imáms] are the gate of repentance in all the worlds. And we submit to them.[274]

The implications that this passage has for an understanding of the Bab's appropriation of the title "Gate" will be explored in Part ii. It is clear from this interpretation, however, that False Waláya pertains not only to what the Shí`a considers to have been the tragic turn in the history of Islam, but that it has implications for the inner life of the soul. Here the reference to Abú Bakr is read as a convenient symbol or hypostatization of the otherwise abstract idea of misdirected belief.

The next specific mention of the False Waláya appears at verse 61. This verse is one of the few which the Bab quotes in sections. The commentary in question occurs at the third and final section:

Get you down to Egypt; you shall have there that you demanded.' And abasement and poverty were pitched upon them, and they were laden with the burden of God's anger; that, because they had disbelieved the signs of God and slain the prophets unrightfully; that, because they disobeyed, and were transgressors. [2:61c]

When the people of the depth of the Inclusive Unity accepted that which was meaner than the most exalted land (balad al-a`lá), God cast them down [>Get you down ] from the depth of the waláya to the Egypt of contingency.

And abasement of allusions (ishárát) and poverty of limitations (hudúdát) were pitched upon them. They merited [only] the False Waláya (waláya bátila) [at the time of] the Origination (bi-ibdá`) of the waláya of truth because they disbelieved in the waláya of `Alí, the Origin of all signs. Whoever disbelieves in his waláya, disbelieves in the signs of the Exclusive Unity and the tokens of the Inclusive Unity and the stations of nubúwa. It is because of this disbelief thatthey killed the prophets wrongfully. Because God made all the Prophets as rays of the sign of His walí, he who rejects his waláya has, at the time of such rejection, in fact killed the prophets. [275]

Such a statement transposes the whole Sunní/Shí`í polemic, in which the first three caliphs suffer so much derision, to a metaphysical register quite beyond, though not necessarily excluding, the concerns of communalism. The "historical location" of the events referred to in 2:61c is meaningful for the Bab insofar as it permits him to speak about more fundamental spiritual issues. By use of the term "inclusive unity", it would appear that False Waláya here does not represent pure unalloyed evil; rather, it is seen as a lesser unity. And, it was because the "people of the inclusive (or restricted) unity" themselves desired a lower station, that they were cast out by God from the true waláya into the "Egypt of the contingent world" (misr al-imkán). Thus, they brought upon themselves those afflictions mentioned in the verse.

False Waláya is further indicated at verse 67, which the Bab has divided in two for the purposes of his commentary. Here the Qur'an tells the story of Moses leading the Children of Israel through the wilderness. In particular, it tells of the rebelliousness of those who were given certain commandments by God through Moses. The specific command is to sacrifice a cow, and the episode itself is the subject of several successive verses. An excerpt from this commentary follows the citation of the entire verse.

And when Moses said to his people, 'God commands you to sacrifice a cow.' They said, 'Dost thou take us in mockery?' He said, 'I take refuge with God, lest I should be one of the ignorant.' [2:67]

When God commanded Muhammad to communicate to the people of the contingent world [the order to] sacrifice the things and affairs of the self (al-shu'únát wa'l-atwár al-nafsáníya) and to turn their backs (idbár) from the False Waláya which is the cow, he communicated [it] on the eighteenth day of the month of pilgrimage what he was commanded to [communicate] by his Lord. [276]

The Bab then cites a portion of the Farewell Pilgrimage, which represents for him a re-enactment of the basic theme of the verse.[277] The implication here is that while the verse in one of its intentions, actually refers to the history of Moses, its more important significance should be seen in connection with the so-called salvation history of the Shí`a. In this way, history itself is seen to be unified. The celebrated passage is:

Whoever I am the master of [The Bab adds here: 'in the worlds of unity (`awálim al-wahda)'] then this man `Alí is his master (mawláhu). O God, befriend him who befriends him and be an enemy to him who is enemy to him. Assist to victory who assists him to victory, and abandon (khadala) him who abandons him.[278]

Because of the ambiguity of the word mawlá, it was possible to understand the statement as translated above. So understood, this passage has been cited by the Shí`a from the earliest times as a proof-text for their claims.[279]

Waláya is that by which man's distinctive faculty of choice (ikhtiyár), is exercised. In this respect, all men, it would appear, are created equal. Several verses are interpreted by the Bab as upholding this principle, for example his commentary on the following:

So woe to those who write the Book with their hands, then say, 'This is from God,' that they may sell it for a little price; so woe to them for what their hands have written, and woe to them for their earnings. [2:79]

Here the Bab says that all created things werewriting "the excellence (fadl) of `Alíwith their hands "by means of what they chose for themselves". At some point, however, certain ones abandoned the Exclusive Unity of the waláya of `Alí and broughtwoe upon themselves by writing his "excellence" (fadl) with their own hands. That is, they distorted his excellence by ascribing it to someone else; the waláya of `Alí, for having been acknowledged but rejected by them, will destroy them. This is the meaning ofselling for a little price. On the other hand, those who remained in this Exclusive Unity continued to benefit from this fadl. Woe (al-wayl) is itself a direct reference to the False Waláya, and the fact that it is mentioned three times refers to the sucessive caliphates of "the First, Second, and Third".[280] Here it is clear that the False Waláya is not restricted to one personality, but like the Absolute Waláya, it represents an enduring principle. The following passages present the same "dangerous" aspects of the waláya of `Alí. In the first example it is characterized as a punishment:

And they say, 'The Fire shall not touch us save a number of days.' [2:80a]

Those who love the false waláya have indeed worshipped the calf (al-`ijl). And they say, 'The Fire shall not touch us that is (ay) the waláya of `Alí,save a number of days during the lifetime of the Messenger of God.[281]

This refers to the duplicity of those who accepted the Prophet's nomination of `Alí at Ghadír Khumm, only to renege later. Among them, according to Shí`í tradition, was `Umar himself:

Among those who were profuse in their congratulations on his position was `Umar b. al-Khattáb. He gave a public appearance of great joy at it, saying: "Bravo, bravo, `Alí, you have become my master and the master of every believing man and woman."[282]

The subject arises again in the commentary on the following verse:

When there has come to them a Messenger from God confirming what was with them, a party of them that were given the Book reject the Book of God behind their backs, as though they knew not. [2:101]

This verse is interpreted as referring to Muhammad's bringing the imperative of "servitude to his self" (bi'l-`ubúdíya li-nafsihi) in the realm of timeless Origination, which confirms not only that which iswith you, but "that which came before and that which will come after you". However, a party of those to whom God had given the "possibility of shining by following the waláya of `Alí", reject the Book of his waláya "behind" the False Waláya.[283]

At verse 102, the Bab makes a series of comments relevant to the frequently encountered notions of Exclusive and Inclusive Unity. Here the terms are seen to refer to True and False Waláya respectively. It is interesting that in this way, even False Waláya has some positive aspects.

Solomon disbelieved not, but the Satans disbelieved, teaching the people sorcery, and that which was sent down upon Babylon's two angels, Harut and Marut; they taught not any man, without they said, 'We are but a temptation; do not disbelieve.' From them they learned how they might divide a man and his wife, yet they did not hurt any man thereby, save by the leave of God, and they learned what hurt them, and did not profit them, knowing well that whoso buys it shall have no share in the world to come; evil then was that which they sold themselves for, if they had but known. [2:102b]

And that which was sent down upon Babylon's two angels, Harut and Marut; they learned, from the two , how they might divide a man and his wife, is an allusion to the one who abides in the land of the Two Gulfs (i.e., `Alí: wáqif fí ard al-tatanjayn), because it is he who understands [the relationship between] the Exclusively Unitary Lordship and the servitude of the self.[284] Yet they, i.e., the people of the Inclusive Unity, did not harm in the place (mash`ar) where the perception of his Lord occurs,[285] namely through the waláya ofany one of the Infernal Imáms, save by the leave of God, that is (ay) the waláya of `Alí.

And he who follows the waláya of the False One, has indeed learned what hurt him, from hating the Truth[286] and [that the only thing which] profits him (i.e., the only thing he gains) is Hell and the deprivation (hirmán) of the meeting with God.[287]

Some notice of the way the Bab introduces these comments is in order, inasmuch as they reveal something of the way he saw himself at this time.

As for the tafsír of this blessed verse, it is as profound as the profundity of Origination itself, glorifed be its Originator. And behold! I am the one who will explain its reality and wisdom.[288]


In the above discussion of False Waláya, the term Waláya of the First (waláyat al-awwal) was encountered. As mentioned above, this designation has a double reference. On the historical level, it alludes to the fact of Abú Bakr's acceptance of the caliphate upon the death of Muhammad, becoming thereby the first successor to the Prophet. In what Corbin calls the metahistorical dimension, we have already seen that this primacy also refers to the first act of disobedience at the time of the creation of Adam, when God commanded the angels to prostrate themselves before the first man. Taken in this sense, the figure of Abú Bakr acquires the features of a cosmic principle of rebelliousness to God's command, which puts him quite beyond the concerns of simple sectarian polemic.[289] In addition to these two aspects of the designation "First", the term carries with it a certain element of irony in that as a theological term, it is one of the recognized names (asmá') of God.[290] Furthermore, in normal discourse, it is used as a positive adjective of primacy in the sense of "foremost" or "most important". The word is used frequently in this last sense in the tafsír, as for example at verse 3, in the Bab's discussion of the ritual prayer (salát), where the Bab says that salát is the first or foremost station of distinction between God and the lover.[291]

By way of further clarification, the Bab discusses the quranic al-ákhira, which may be thought of as the opposite of al-awwal. At verse 4, the Bab says of the word Hereafter that it is in fact a designation of `Alí. His waláya is the thing that was revealed to Muhammad, and God has raised no prophet, nor revealed any book or command, except through the waláya of `Alí.[292] Thus it would appear to carry the idea of "I am the alpha and the omega.", with the emphasis here on omega.

One of the earliest allusions to the the waláya of the First, is found in the Bab's commentary at verse 24. This is one of the so-called tahaddí verses, in which those who doubt the divine source of Muhammad's revelation, are challenged to produce something comparable.

If you do not - and you will not - then fear the Fire, whose fuel is men and stones, prepared for unbelievers. [2:24]

Interestingly, the Bab shifts the reference away from the quranic challenge, and discusses the verse in the following terms:

God [here] speaks [akhbara] about their kufr [and His statement may be phrased this way]: "If you do not accept the depth of the Exclusive Unity in the potential aspect of your beings (imkánikum) then you will never recognize the absolute waláya of `Alí in the actualized aspect of your beings (akwánikum). Then fear [heed> attaqú] the Fire of the appeal (da`wa) of Husayn on the Day of `áshúra. And if you do not heed, God will make this retreat (idbár) theFire of the love of the First (mahabbat al-awwal), [and] whose fuel, is the Second (`Umar) and stones [will be] the Third (Uthmán). God has prepared the love (hubb) of these three for unbelievers .[293]

Although the word waláya is not used here, a substitute or related term "love" (mahabba,i.e., of the First), is clearly opposed to the idea of the Absolute Waláya of `Alí. The commentary on this verse also carries one of the earliest references to the related negative designations of the "Second" and the "Third", and illustrates one of the more frequent exegetical techniques used by the Bab, who many times exploits a series of substantives in order to more fully elaborate his theme. Here the Quranic Fire, fuel, and stones are each considered separately. Through the sin of ingratitude (kufr), love is transformed into an infernal flame. It is not clear whether the equating of `Umar withfuel, while Uthmán is associated with stones, represents a significant gradation. One of the more important aspects of this section of the Bab's commentary, is the establishment of the equivalence waláya/mahabba. Either term can be positive or negative, as in the case here of wrongly-directed love, which ultimately becomes Fire. Love as a synonym for waláya is of course not new with the Bab,[294] but it is important that this aspect of waláya be constantly kept in mind as a means of holding the other connotations of the term, such as "authority" and "power" in perspective.[295] It is this equivalence which led Corbin to state that Shí`ism is pre-eminently a religion of love.[296] This is a very large assertion and one which must be considered in the somewhat rarified context of Corbin's key sources. However, insofar as devotion to the waláya of the Imám represents, in essence, an act of love, the assertion stands. In the commentary immediately preceding this section, the idea of primal evil is also brought out.

And if you are in doubt concerning what We have sent down on Our servant, then bring a súra like it, and call your witnesses, apart from God, if you are truthful. [2:23]

Doubt (rayb), we are told, is the quality of the First (sifat al-awwal) and his followers.[297] The verse is then paraphrased:

O those of you who are in doubt and non-recognition[298] concerning that which was sent down upon Our servant Muhammad touching the waláya of `Alí! [If you are in doubt] then search through all the contingent worlds. Is it possible that there is anyone equal to `Alí in the matter of the caliphate? If it is possible, then prove it through your witnesses (fa-`tarifú bi-shuhada'i-kum) from among those you have set up as signs of your Lord (áyát rabbikum) aside from `Alí, if you are truthful. [299]

At this commentary "love" is also associated with waláya. The Bab says:

None can attain to the Depth of the Exclusive Divine Unity (lujjat al-ahadíya) except by means of his (`Alí's) waláya. It is the goal (maqsúd) of your existence (wujúdi-kum), because God has made you for the sake (li-ajli) of this love (mahabba). And He has put His life (hayá) and His might (`izz) in it, to the extent that such is possible in the contingent world - if only you understood .[300]

At verse 27, the First is identified as the one who first broke the covenant of God (not in historical time but in primordial time), and as such has significance for the above-mentioned metahistorical dimension of sacred history.

Such as break the covenant of God after its solemn binding, and such as cut what God has commanded should be joined, and such as do corruption in the land - they shall be the losers. [2:27]

The Bab says that the phrase: those who broke the covenant refers to the covenant (`ahd) of Muhammad, concerning the signs of `Alí and was instituted in the world of al-ghayb.

These signs were placed within () the atoms (dharr) of the hearts [which represents] the station (maqám) of tawhíd, and [in] the atoms of the intellects [which represents] the level (rutba) of nubúwa, and [in] the atoms of souls [which represents] the abode of imáma, and [in] the atoms of the bodies [which represents] the place (mahall) of the love of the Shi`a after God imposed this solemn binding upon all created things [which is] faith in Muhammad, `Alí, Hasan, Husayn, Ja`far, Músá, and Fátima. They shall be the disbelievers (káfirún instead of khásirún, all mss.).[301]

The first who broke the covenant of God in the contingent world in all of its stations, from the sign of tawhíd to the last limit of multiplicity was Abú al-Dawáhí, may God curse him. He broke the covenant of God concerning His friends in the worlds ofal-ghayb and cut the waláya of `Alí in his visible manifestations (fí mazáhirihi, sic) namely the Imáms of the visible world (a'immat al-shaháda) . . .[302]

With this commentary we encounter another designation of Abú Bakr - Abú al-Dawáhí ("Father of Iniquities"). The Bab refers to the first Caliph this way throughout the commentary, just as `Umar is often called Abú al-Shurúr ("Father of Evils"). it is not likely that these derogatory names are inventions of the Bab, although I have not found them elsewhere.[303]

At verse 34, in one of the several brief citations of the famous Khutbat al-Shiqshiqíya which appear in the tafsír, the Khutba is quoted in connection with the Divine command to the angels to prostrate before Adam. All of the angels bowed except Iblís, "that is the First, and he is the one about whom `Alí said: 'Verily Ibn Abí Quháfa,' and he is Abú al-Dawáhí, 'assumed the mantle (la-qad taqammasahá)' [i.e., of the caliphate]"[304]. This Khutba is found in the canonical Nahj al-balágha and is referred to often by Shí`í writers and begins as follows:

By God! that man snatched the caliphate as if it were a garment which could be put on by him, while all the while he knew that my station was like that of the pivot (qutb) of the grinding stone.[305]

Although no name, apart from fulán is mentioned here, the statement is universally understood as referring to Abú Bakr, as `Abduh himself points out.[306] The Khutba continues to explain how the next two Caliphs wrongfully usurped `Alí's position and the reasons for which this was tolerated by the Imám. The title of the sermon is derived in the following way. `Alí's condemnation and lament was interrupted by the arrival of a messenger with a letter which `Alí then read, breaking off the address. After `Alí had read the letter, Ibn `Abbás asked him to resume his theme, at which the Imám replied: "In no way, in no way. It was like the foam on the camel's mouth (shiqshiqa) as it opens its mouth to bellow and then falls silent."[307]

The next mention of the First, occurs at verses 41 and 42, which are separated in the text by their respective commentaries, but are presented together here for convenience.

And believe in that which I have sent down, confirming that which is with you, and be not the first to disbelieve in it. And sell not My signs for a little price; and fear you Me. [2:41] And do not confound the truth with vanity, and do not conceal the truth wittingly. [2:42]

The first [here postive] that was sent down from God was the sign of the Divine Ipseity (áyat húwíya). And it[308] is the sign of the waláya belonging to `Alí (li-`Alí). And it is this sign[309] which isconfirming [310]that which is with you through servitude to God.

And God placed the lifeless form[311] of this sign in all created things, for [effecting] faith thereby in order that he [the individual thing] might annihilate[312] and forget all things through its immortality (li-baqá'i-há) and its (the áya's) remembrance .

And he who turned away from it (a`rada `anhá), was the first to disbelieve in it [313] (waláya or áya). {And none in al-imkán but Abú al-Dawáhí, may the curse of God be upon him, turned away from it first . And for that reason, he becamethe first to disbelieve in him/it }.[314]

And God commanded His servants to be not (lá takúnú) like him, because whoever turns away from the sign of the Family of God becomes (fa-huwa) a sign of the First, and becomes [also] the first to disbelieve in it.[315]

And those who sell the signs of God by looking to other than the Family of God, have sold for a small price [which is the price of] the vision of waláya itself (or, the áya itself: bi-ru'yati nafsi-há).[316]

Verily he who accepts (al-rádí) immortality (baqá') in the stages (atwár) of the tamtám of the Inclusive Unity of the stations (maqámát) of Mercifulness, such a one has then sold the signs of the Exclusive Unity for the price of the Inclusive Unity. And this is [a] small [price].[317]

And Me (íyáya) is (ay) the depth (lujja) of the Exclusive Unity.

And fear ye [refers to the fact] that the servant will never perfect pious fear (taqwá) except when he is firmly established in the cloud (`amá) of the Eternal Refuge (al-samadíya). Otherwise, as long as he continues to travel throughout the atwár of the Inclusive Unity he will continue to abide (huwa al-wáqif) in the station of limitation (mash`ar al-hadd). And God has forbidden the People of Love (ahl al-mahabba) from this station (al-mawqif) with His statement fear you Me. [318]

The word of God (kalám al-haqq) is the creation (íjád) of the thing. And the Truth (al-haqq) is the waláya of `Alí and thevanity (al-bátil) is the waláya of the First. God commanded His servants: "Do not try to understand the sign of your own tawhíd by means of a quality of the contingent world (sifat al-imkán), nor be oblivious of the depth of the Exclusive Unity, wittingly ".

Verily, whatever is other than it, isvanity, while it is the truth and the ultimate goal of the bounty of the Lord (fayd al-rabb).

And the one who looks with other than the eye of God confounds truth with vanity and conceals the truth after God had taught him the waláya of `Alí, . . . Then how are you turned about (10:32).[319]

Another mention of the First, in connection with the topic of waláya, is at verse 51.

And when We appointed with Moses forty nights, then you took to yourselves the Calf after him and you were evildoers . [2:51]

Here Moses means Muhammad and theforty nights represent `Alí, who lived for "thirty years after the death of Muhammad" and the ten "Proofs" (hujaj). Together these eleven Imáms represent the period when "their glory was concealed by darkness of disbelief" (i.e, the forty nights ). The calf (al-`ijl) is none other than Abú al-Dawáhí. Finally, this darkness of disbelief will be relieved by the advent (zuhúr) of the Day of the Qá'im. "When God causes his amr to appear what I have only hinted at will clearly appear."[320]

Similar comments may be found throughout the tafsír, notably at 2:58, where the transgressions which God promises toforgive are precisely those resulting from the waláyat al-bátil. Here waláya would seem to mean the "act" of following the wrong Imám.[321] Reference is again made to the Khutbat al-shiqshiqíya in the commentary on 2:59, where the evildoers are those whosubstituted a saying (qawl) by following the one who wrongly "put on the mantle of the caliphate".[322] Here the Bab also invokes the Shí`í tahríf al-Qur'án tradition:

Abú Ja`far said: "Gabriel originally brought this verse to Muhammad in the following way: 'The evildoers substituted the right of the family of Muhammad with a statement which had not been said to them So We sent down upon those who perpetrated evil against the family of Muhammad wrath out of heaven for their ungodliness.'" [323]

This tradition is found in three of the four major akhbárí commentaries mentioned in the Introduction. Not only does its use here by the Bab indicate that our author probably consulted other commentaries while writing this one, but it presents a good example of the way in which akhbárí commentators bolstered their claim that "the Qur'an which we have in our hands is not the whole Qur'an".[324]

The commentary on verse 79 identifies the three separate mentions ofwoe (al-wayl) with the first three caliphs.[325] Elsewhere we are told that the refusal to recognize (inkár) the waláya of `Alí is accounted by God as "all transgressions". He who, in verse 81 is described as being encompassed by his transgression is in this condition because he earned "the waláya of the First". Similarly, the Fire of Hell is the subsequent "waláya of the Second."[326] To explain further this verse, the Bab quotes a hadíth from an anonymous Imám:

When they disputed the Imamate of the Commander of the Faithful those were the inhabitants of the Fire, there they shall dwell forever.[327]

The Bab then says:

And the secret of the thing I will now explain. It is that the Garden which the Merciful promised to His servants, to all others equally, [including] the Family of God, is the shadow of the body of Husayn.

And the seven hells are similarly for the First and his manifestation (mazhar). Verily God created them from the kufr of the body of al-Yazíd (sic) upon him be the curse and the chastisement.[328]

He who confesses to the waláya of`Alí will have entered the Ridwán, and he who rejects will have entered the Fires (al-nírán). And that is the order of things firmly established (taqdír mahtúm) by one Mighty, Wise. [329]

At the commentary on verse 85, we find another mention of these three.

Then there you are killing one another, and expelling a party of you from their habitations, conspiring against them in sin and enmity; and if they come to you as captives, you ransom them; yet their expulsion was forbidden you. What, do you believe in part of the Book, and disbelieve in part? What shall be the recompense of those of you who do that, but degradation in the present life, and on the Day of Resurrection to be returned unto the most terrible of chastisement? And God is not heedless of the things you do. [2:85]

And the addressee (al-mukhátab) is the First and his companions [with the meaning]: you killed the sign of `Alí, with what God placed in yourselves (anfusi-kum) after the Messenger of God had already taught you, "who of you knows best his self, is he who knows best his Lord" [330]

. . . But, you were conspiring against them with the polytheists by means of the waláya ofsin and enmity . And sin is the Second and enmity is the Third.

And if they come to you as captives - namely the people who do not know the Imám - you ransom them with the waláya of yourselves. And in the estimation of God, this has been forbidden (muharram)to you. Thusyou expelled them from the waláya of `Alí, after you had acquainted them with the nubúwa of Muhammad, for the sake of your own trusteeship (wisáya).

What, do you believe in some of the Book after God has already taught you that it (innahá = "false wisáya") is an accursed tree [17:60] in the Qur'án?[331]

And disbelieve in part after God had already taught you that in the Mother of the Book, with Us it/he is `alí indeed, wise. . . . [332]

And God is not heedless of the things you do in "donning the mantle" of waláya (qamís al-waláya) by usurping it for themselves.[333]

And they will meet with the justice of `Alí for their wrongdoing. He who veils anyone from the Remembrance of God, or the Remembrance of the Family of God, or the Remembrance of their Shí`a, then [?`Alí] will expel him from hishabitations, and his reward on the Day of Resurrection will be the most terrible chastisement, for what their hands have earned.[334] And God is not heedless of the things they do.

And verily al-Sádiq said, concerning the external (záhir) meaning, that this verse was sent down about Abú Dharr, may God be merciful to him, and `Uthmán.[335]

This hadíth deals only with the exoteric aspects (wa amru-hu záhirun), and this is not the place (al-maqám) forthe (full) revelation of its meaning (li-izhári amri-hi). The point is that the universal fundamental principles (qawá`idu kullíyatun) have rained down (tarashshaha) in this verse. The believer recognizes his (`Alí's) cause through these habitations (fí khilálí tilka al-diyár).[336]

Beginning at verse 90, a series of verses gives rise to comments in which the First, Second and Third are mentioned.

Evil is the thing they have sold themselves for, disbelieving in that which God sent down, grudging that God should send down of His bounty on whomsoever He will of His servants, and they were laden with anger upon anger; and for unbelievers awaits a humbling chastisement. [2:90]

Verily, those who desire the sign of the Inclusive Unity over the sign of the Exclusive unity: Evil is the thing they have sold themselves for, namely, that sign of the Lord which is intended in the statement "He who knows it, knows God".[337] Namely, that their polytheistic souls (bi-anfusi-him al-mushrikati) are the [collective] sign of the Infernal Caliphs (khulafá' al-nár). They call upon the armies of Satan[338] to disbelieve inwhat God has sent down concerning the waláya of `Alí, grudging stubbornly that which God sends down out of His bounty , that is, his (`Alí's) waláya,[339] on whomsoever He will . And the Lord wills only to send it down upon the Family of God [who are] His servants. As for the other one, if they want his waláya, they will be laden with anger that is the Second, upon anger, that is the Third, and for those who swerved from the waláya of `Alí, there awaits a humbling chastisement. And that is the waláya of the First.[340]

Abú Ja`far said: "Gabriel originally came down to the Messenger of God with this verse: 'Evil is the thing they have sold themselves for, that they disbelieve in what God has sent down concerning `Alí grudgingly."[341]

[The Báb:]

I testify that this is the intention (al-maqsúd) of these verses according to the Merciful, and exalted is God above what the polytheists say.


Enough examples have now been examined to support the following conclusions.

(1) Waláya is one of the major themes of the commentary.

(2) The radical interpretation of quranic passages as speaking directly to the subject of waláya has its roots in traditional Shí`í literature.

(3) The nature of the commentary on this theme exhibits certain features in common with the so-called ghulát. In this regard the following summary from the Kitáb al-irjá', written by the former leader of the Mukhtáríya, al-Hasan b. Muhammad ibn al-Hanafíya (99/717) is pertinent. Although the term ghulát is not used, the group is condemned for holding the following views:

1. The belief that religion meant allegiance to the house of `Alí, so that people ought to be loved or hated inasmuch as they were loyal or disloyal to that house (to which could be appendixed the excommunication (bara'a) of the opponents of `Alí among the sahába, especially the first three caliphs;

2. The belief that the Prophet hid (katama) nine tenths of the Qur'án and that they were guided to a new revelation (i.e., the claim that prophecy was possible after Muhammad);

3. The hope for a state that would be established in their favour in the future, in a general resurrection preceeding the Day of Judgement.[342]

While the second item is never stated in these terms in the Bab's tafsír, the several references to the corruption of the Qur'an, i.e., as when the Bab quotes a tradition that says "Gabriel came down with this verse thus", would seem to offer a functional parallel. The last, number 3, figures in the eventual claims of the Bab, but we have seen, particularly in the commentary on 2:51, that the establishment of the "sovereignty" (saltana) of the Qá'im is one of the themes of the commentary, as it is in so-called "orthodox" Shí`ism. It has been argued, however, that the belief in the return of hidden Imám was adopted as an "orthodox" doctrine by leading Shí`í scholars in the `Abbasid period, precisely because of the feeling that the interests of the Shí`a as a whole had been betrayed.[343]

The Shaykhís themselves were of course accused of ghuluww by their mostly usúlí adversaries.[344] It is interesting to note here that Shaykh Ahmad takes pains to disassociate his teaching on the subject of waláya from what the "hyperbolistes" (ghulát) say.[345] That the Bab himself was sensitive to such accusations may be seen in his citation of a hadíth from Báqir, the fifth Imám, which runs as follows:

O company of the Shí`a! Be a middle position (al-numruqat al-wustá so that the one who has gone beyond (al-ghálí) might return to you and the one who has lagged behind (al-tálí) might catch up with you.[346]

That such beliefs as those described above (and which inform much of akhbárí Qur'an commentary) were susceptible of being labled "extremist" is supported by the long section in Anwár, in which the charges of tafwíd and ghuluww (which might otherwise be levelled against the work) are discussed and explained.[347] Here the author says that those who occupy a "middle position" (al-numruqat al-wustá) are those who are able to appreciate the subtleties (daqá'iq) of his doctrine of the Imamate.[348] Appeal is made to the famous tradition in which the Prophet declared "The words of the family of Muhammad are exceedingly abstruse (sa`b mustas`ab). No one believes them except those angels who have been brought near, a sent prophet, or a servant whose heart has been tested by God." [349] This idea of the knowledge of the Imáms being "exceedingly difficult" is found in a very long hadíth quoted by the Bab in the course of his commentary on 2:27.[350] It is important to acknowledge these so-called ghuluww aspects of the Bab's tafsír, in order to better understand the kinds of conditions in which he wrote, conditions which ultimatley led to his own claim to imáma. It would appear that the Bab is more involved in an internal Shí`í debate, namely the one between the akhbárís and the usúlís, which by this time had become more of a Shaykhí/Bálá-sarí argument,[351] than a direct criticism of the Sunnís.

More pertinent to this study however, are the methods by which the Bab radicalized the meaning of the Qur'an on the issue of waláya. These include the exegetical tools of allegory and typology. A recent discussion of typology as a method of reading scripture appears to have implications for this study.[352] Although the main subject in this work is the typological interpretation of the New Testament as the fulfillment of the Old Testament, the argument may be applied, with a few structural considerations, to general akhbárí Shí`í interpretation of the Qur'an. At bottom, the argument in Shí`í tafsír is the vindication of the claim of the Shí`a against the Sunnís, whereas in the case of the Bible, a similar argument was put forth by the authors of the New Testament against the Jews. The point to be made however would appear to be applicable in both cases.

Typology is a figure of speech that moves in time: the type exists in the past and the antitype in the present, or the type exists in the present and the antitype in the future. What typology really is as a mode of thought, what it both assumes and leads to, is a theory of history, or more accurately of historical process: an assumption that there is some meaning and point to history, and that sooner or later some event or events will occur which will indicate what that meaning or point is, and so become an antitype of what has happened previously.[353]

We have seen for example, how the Bab interpreted the events of the primordial Day of the Covenant, to support in however "extremist" terms, the central belief of orthodox Shí`ism, namely that `Alí's rightful position was usurped by Abú Bakr. In this and many other contexts, it might be argued that the Qur'an fulfills the function of Frye's Old Testament, while the akhbár of the Imáms represents the New Testament. This analogy is of course not perfect because of the many important differences between the respective elements. Furthermore, because the thrust of the Bab's commentary appears to be aimed not primarily at Sunní Islam the analogy is also erroneous. Given however, the course which future Bábism was to take as a result of acknowledging the return of the Qá'im in the person of the Bab, Frye's argument seems even more compelling.

Typology points to future events that are often thought of as transcending time, so that they contain a vertical lift as well as a horizontal move forward. The metaphorical kernel of this is the experience of waking up from a dream . . . When we wake up from sleep, one world is simply abolished and replaced by another. This suggests a clue to the origin of typology: it is essentially a revolutionary form of thought and rhetoric. We have revolutionary thought whenever the feeling "life is a dream" becomes geared to an impulse to waken from it.[354]

The similarities between the themes described above in the Bab's tafsír, with those ascribed to the members of the Mukhtaríya or Kaysaníya would supports Frye's insight. In addition, because the figure of the Qá'im is interpreted in places by the Bab as a purely esoteric principle,[355] Frye's allusion to a "vertical" dimension of typological exegesis is also apposite.

Because of the centrality of the idea of waláya in this work, it was thought advisable to treat it at such length. The inclusion of the many direct quotations also provides several important examples of the actual method of exegesis employed by the Bab, one which would be shortly abandoned in favour of a much more radical and innovative approach to scripture.

With this survey of the use of the term waláya in the Bab's commentary on the first juz' of the Qur'an, it is possible to identify the Bab's thinking on this subject only partly with the teachings of Shaykh Ahmad and Sayyid Kázim, which represent a kind of akhbárí synthesis of several intellectual and spiritual tendencies.[356] But it is certainly not possible to say that the Bab depended upon Shaykhí works for the main thrust of his argument, which would appear to be as old as Islam itself. It would be interesting to compare this view of waláya with that of Shaykh Ahmad's older Persian contemporary, Núr `Alí-Shah, whose writings on the subject seems to be much less "Shí`í" than the former's, although there are certain common features shared between the two.[357] Such a comparison would probably further explain Shaykh Ahmad's great popularity in Iran.

As Landolt has pointed out, the term walí may mean friend, helper, superior, guardian, and that in basic legal theory it designates the primary heir. We see all of these aspects of the word as it is applied by the Bab to `Alí, and by extension, the other Imáms. The legal idea of primary heir is one of the more interesting in this regard, and may be seen reflected not only in statements made by the Bab, but also in the hadíth literature itself. One of the more striking features of the above material is the delineating of False Waláya as a polar opposite of the True Waláya. As has been noted, this idea is not a creation of the Bab and may be traced to the earliest hadíth collections and the Qur'an itself (e.g., 4:76) where the world is divided into two major groups: those who do battle in the way of God, and those who do battle in the way of Idols (sabíl al-Tághút), the friends of Satan (awliyá al-Shaytán).[358]

The position of walí as a kind of "intercessor" for those too weak to act in their own behalf in matters of inheritance, and presumably other legal matters,[359] is one which is also reflected in those traditions quoted by the Bab in which, for example, Paradise is the reward of those whose walí is `Alí.

Waláya was the central fact of meaning in the Bab's universe, which was of course, a religious one. It is because of, or by means of waláya, that God communicates with creation, if not that principle because of which and by means of which creation is "creation". In the following section there will be occasion to further nuance the meaning of waláya, in the course of describing the hierarchical world of which the Bab writes. In particular, we will be interested to study the relationship between the categories of nubúwa and waláya. It will also be seen how waláya continues to figure to the utmost degree in the various hierarchies found throughout the tafsír, and in the process of manifestation (tajallí). This process was for the Shaykhís and the Bab, not to mention several of their predecessors, the solution par excellence of the transcendence versus immanence controversy.

Part i: Chapter 2

Hierarchies -1 (Tetrads)

One of the distinctive features of the Bab's commentary on the second súra of the Qur'an is his frequent recourse to tiering various key concepts over a range of levels or grades resulting in a kind of spiritual hierarchy. In this chapter and the next, several examples these hierarchies will be examined in an attempt to trace any influences their use indicates and, more importantly, to determine the meaning these various structures held for the Bab and perhaps those who were likely to come into contact with his work. As mentioned, some of the immediate influences on the Bab come from the Shaykhí synthesis of several different types of Islamicate theosophical expression. There were possibly other factors which contributed to the representations found in this tafsír, after all Shíráz has been a major centre of Sufi activity for centuries. In addition, the Shaykhí school derived a good deal of its symbology and terminology from the great masters Ibn Sina, Suhrawardi, Ibn `Arabí and Mullá Sadrá. Shaykhism also shows traces of less well-known figures such as Ibn Abí Jumhur and Rajab Bursí. Elements of Ismá`ilí thought will also be identified.

The major hierarchies in the Bab's commentary are either tetrads or heptads, with as shall be seen, some modifications. In order to come to terms with these structures, it will be helpful to become acquainted with their counterparts in the writings of the first two masters of the Shaykhí school, Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsá'í and Sayyid Kázim Rashtí. Relevant works by these two authors have fortunately been studied by Henry Corbin, and the following remarks pertaining to them are in large measure derived from Corbin's analysis. Inasmuch as the hierarchy which employs four elements may be seen as the basis for the heptad it will be discussed first, although in the Bab's commentary the first hierarchy presented consists of seven elements.

The starting place for this discussion is three traditions ascribed to the fourth Imám, `Alí Zayn al-`Abidín (94/712-13); the fifth Imám, al-Báqir (113/731-2); and the sixth Imám, al-Sádiq (148/765). The first one carries a conversation between the Imám and his disciple Jábir ibn Yazíd al-Ju`fí, in which the Imám mentions seven articles of faith the understanding of which is necessary for the believer. These articles are: [1] al-tawhíd; [2] al-ma`ání; [3] al-abwáb; [4] al-imáma; [5] al-arkán; [6] al-nuqabá'; [7] al-nujabá'.[360] In this discussion, however, we are concerned only with the first four articles, the remaining three will be dealt with in the chapter on heptads.

The second hadíth is in the form of a conversation between the fifth Imám, Muhammad al-Báqir and his disciple, Jábir al-Ansárí:

Báqir said: "O Jábir! Upon you be al-bayán and al-ma`ání. " Jábir said: "And what is al-bayán and al-ma`ání ?" Báqir answered: "As for al-bayán it is that you recognize that God is He of whom it is said: Like Him there is naught [42:11], and to serve Him and to not share with anything the devotion which is due Him to any extent whatsoever. As for al-ma`ání - We are His ma`ání, His side (janb), His hand, His tongue, His command/cause (amr), His rule, His knowledge, His truth. Whatever We will, God wills; and God purposes what We purpose. . . . . And We are the Face of God which is moving about in all directions in the earth (yataqallabu fí 'l-ard) in your midst (bayna azharikum). He who has recognized us has certitude (yaqín) itself for an Imám. He who is ignorant of us has Sijjín for an Imám.[361]

The third and final hadíth is actually composed of two similar statements from the sixth Imám, Ja`far al-Sádiq. Because of its obscurity, the translations of both versions are followed by a transliteration:

[A] Our cause is the truth, and the truth of the truth. It is the exoteric and it is the esoteric of the exoteric, and it is the esoteric of the esoteric. It is the secret, and the secret of the secret - a secret enveloped in a secret and the secret of that which is veiled by the secret.

(amruná huwa al-haqq wa haqq al-haqq wa huwa al-záhir wa bátin al-záhir wa bátin al-bátin wa huwa al-sirr wa sirr al-sirr wa sirr al-mustasirr wa sirr muqanna` bi'l-sirr)

[B] Our cause is a veiled secret, a secret which can only speak of a secret, a secret above a secret, a secret which remains enveloped in the secret.

(amruná sirr mustasirr wa sirr lá yufíduhu illá sirr wa sirr `alá sirr wa sirr muqanna` bi'l-sirr)[362]

These three hadíths play an important part in Shaykh Ahmad's commentary on one of the verses of the Ziyárat al-jámi`a: "Peace be upon you, O members of the family of the Prophet, you who are [collectively] the repository of the prophetic message (mawdi` al-risála)."[363] Shaykh Ahmad refers to these three traditions in detailing four ontological levels (maqámát) of imáma (directly conditioned by the language of the second and third hadíths) which the verse, according to him, presupposes:

[1] The station of "a secret veiled by the secret" (sirr muqanna` bi'l-sirr).[364]

[2] The station of "the secret of the secret" (sirr al-sirr) or "the esoteric of the esoteric" (bátin al-bátin). (These two stations correspond to "the truth of the truth" (haqq al-haqq) in version A.)

[3] The station of "the secret" (al-sirr) or "the esoteric of the exoteric" (bátin al-záhir). (This corresponds to "the secret which can only speak of another secret" (sirr lá yufíduhu illá sirr) in version B.)

[4] The station of "the exoteric" (al-záhir), or "the veiled secret" (sirr mustasirr). (Stations 3 & 4 correspond to "the truth" (al-haqq) in version A.)[365]

The highest level is that of the divine "Unrevealed" (al-sirr al-muqanna` bi'l-sirr). This corresponds to the levels of tawhíd or bayán mentioned in the first two hadíths. It is the metaphysical location of the divine command "Be!" (kun!). Shaykh Ahmad puts forth the following classical argument of negative theology.[366] We call Zayd a "standing man" (qá'im), by virtue of the appearance (zuhúr) of the act of standing (qiyám), in the person of Zayd. But it is neither Zayd himself, nor the act of standing itself, which can be designated as qá'im. It is only through the appearance of the act of standing, that we may refer to Zayd by this word. Thus it is a heretofore "invisible" quality, now manifest only through the agency of Zayd, which allows us to use the word. So it is with all the various activities which appear in Zayd; they are all other than Zayd, but are ultimately only knowable through Zayd. At the same time, these various activities may not be identified with the essence (dhát) of Zayd.

The relation of the Imáms to God corresponds to the relation of Zayd to the act of standing. The divine reality (haqíqa) is manifest in them, and cannot be known without them. At the same time, they are known only because this reality is manifest in them, just as we can only know Zayd through his actions and situations. The result is that God is only known through the Imáms, just as one can only know the idea or act of"standing", not only through one who stands but also because the otherwise unknowable act is manifest in him.

This first maqám then serves to affirm the tanzíh of God and also points to the fundamental mystery of being, which according to Corbin, goes quite beyond the ontolgical theories of the Ishráqí tradition.[367] Shaykhí ontology provides for the metaphysical pre-existence of the Imáms. Here, as in Ismá`ílí metaphysics, God is outside whatever may be considered under the category of Being (wujúd). Zayd stands by virtue of the appearance in him of the "quality" of standing. But this quality appears in Zayd only as a result of the divine command, which brings together the two aspects of the being known together as qá'im. Without this command the two would remain separate, and both elements would remain unknown. This amr comprises two aspects. One is completely transcendent (i.e., amr fi`lí), which proceeds from the unknowable God. The other aspect is a passive one (i.e., amr maf`úlí), which is this same imperative as activated in the first creatures (i.e., the Imáms), and appears in the world as through the bearer of the divine quality, analogous to Zayd as qá'im. The amr maf`úlí is also designated by the Shaykhís as the Núr al-anwár, the haqíqat muhammadíya, or the "pleroma" of the twelve Imáms. The amr maf`úlí, as issuing from the amr fi`lí, or the unknowable divine Essence, is therefore a "secret veiled in a secret". The difference between the Shaykhís and, for example the Ishráqís, is that the latter identify the núr al-anwár directly with God.[368] The Shaykhí theory would appear to accomplish two distinct but related tasks: the first is an obvious exaltation of the station of the Imáms to the degree of bringing down upon their teaching the condemnatory accusation of ghuluww;[369] the second is a virtual removal from the human mind of any positive content for the word "God". It is difficult to determine which of the two results, if either, is preeminent.

This first maqám has as its aim the establishment of God's utter transcendence, which as has been seen, can only be spoken of by reference to Being, but for that this transcendence is not diminished. The Imáms, as representatives of this transcendence, are the the focus for the believer, but the believer must never lose sight of the "unseeable" point beyond the Imáms.

C'est pourquoi, dit Shaykh Ahmad, c'est bien vers l'Essence inaccessible que l'homme se tourne, bien qu'á tout jamais il ne puisse la trouver; et cependant il ne cesse de la trouver, alors m�(tm)me qu'á tout jamais elle lui reste inaccessible.[370]

The next maqám corresponds to the term al-ma`ání in the first two hadíths. It is the level at which apprehension of the "Revealed" occurs. In this case, the emphasis is on that which is knowable. At the first level the concern was with an absolute mystery or secret, here it is with the "secret of a secret". This refers to the act of divine manifestation which, however, proceeds concomitantly with the "act" of occultation. Here divine revelation is dependent upon a certain degree of anthropomorphosis which occurs in the Imáms, however, not to the extent of a total incarnation (any eventuality of which having been obviated by the function of first maqám). The Imáms provide a safeguard against what Corbin calls "l'idolatrie métaphysique", which would otherwise naturally ensue as a result of any attempt to affirm the divine unity (tawhíd) without the conceptual assistance of imáma. It is clear that the four levels are in fact inseparable from one another, one cannot be understood in isolation. This is important to bear in mind, otherwise the temptation to separate one from another, with the result of an overly schematic and mechanistic hieararchy, would tend to nullify what might otherwise appear as an excessively "subtle" or unclear processus. This second level also serves to protect theology from the equally abhorrent extremes of ta`tíl (absolute agnosticism) and tashbíh (absolute anthropomorphism). These ma`ání (Imáms) can never be considered identical with the divine Essence, but rather as ma`ání they point beyond themselves to it while providing "phenomenal" content for divinity.

The term ma`ání, in the hadíth quoted above from al-Báqir, permits all of those anthropomorphic statements (tashbíhát) in the Qur'an, such as the "Face of God" or "Hand of God", to be understood as synonyms for the Imám. While in the first maqám the lesson to be learned was that "Zayd" as a standing man represented a mysterious process, here we are concerned with Zayd's actions or situations as they happen in the world. Again, one lesson cannot be learned in isolation from the other. At this level the Imáms are seen as the oil which would almost shine of itself though no fire touched it [24:35], the divine Essence being of course Light itself (metaphorically speaking).

The third level is represented by the word abwáb in the first hadíth. The Imáms as "gates" represent "the secret which can only speak of another secret". Their function at this level is described by such terms as "office" (al-safára), "mediation" (al-wisáta), and "communication" or "interpretation" (al-tarjama). This level corresponds with what the Ishráqís call the Universal Intellect (al-`aql al-kullí), and what others (specifically the ahl al-shar`) refer to as the Pen (al-qalam) or the Muhammadan Light, Spirit or Intellect.[371]

Dans cette Intelligence mohammadienne initiale, le Miséricordieux s'etablit; il dépose en elle et fait procéder d'elle les réalités suprasensible de toutes choses, les formes des créatures á l'état subtil. C'est pourquoi l'Intelligence est bien le Seuil (báb) de Dieu vers les creatures, et comme réciproquement c'est par son intermédiaire que toute créature reÁoit ce qu'elle reÁoit et qu'elle tourne vers Dieu, l'Intelligence est le Seuil des créatures vers Dieu.[372]

The difference between this maqám and the first or second, is again one of emphasis. By the degrees thus outlined, the divine becomes ever more accessible to man through the Imáms.

The fourth maqám corresponds to the term imáma in the first hadíth, and represents the exoteric (al-záhir) according to Shaykh Ahmad. "It is the station of the proof of God (hujjat alláh) over His creation, and His khalífa in His earth to whom obedience is binding upon all creation."[373] The emphasis on obedience implies the sharí`a, an aspect which Corbin does not discuss. This station also refers to the fact that the exoteric dimension of the Qur'an points to the Imamate, which is therefore the bátin of the Book. Here is where the Imáms, in the "unity of their essence", come to be directly identified as the "repository of the prophetic message" (mawdi` al-risála). The fourth maqám includes the remaining categories of arkán, nuqabá', and nujabá' mentioned in the first two hadíths.[374] Shaykh Ahmad closes his discussion with a caveat, indicating that his remarks on this subject should not be taken to imply that the Imáms are separate loci (maháll, pl. as distinct from mawdi`, sing.) of inspiration (wahy) "as some of the ghulát fancy."[375] Corbin's final assessment of Shaykh Ahmad's analysis is important.

Sans doute ce qui précède suffit á faire entrevoir ce que visent les allusions de l'Imám: les descentes épiphaniques (tanazzolát ) du Logos-prophète, les niveaux sucessifs de la Révélation prophétique, et ce qui á chaque niveau en est le ´lieu�(tm) privilégié comme étant le secret investi au coeur de cette Révélation, c'est-á-dire l'Imámat des douze Imáms comme étant l'ésotérique de cette Révélation á ses niveaux successifs. De lá vont éclore la prophétologie et l'imámologie générales du shí`isme, et simultanément les espaces et les profondeurs de l'herméneutique spirituelle . . ., c'est-á-dire les niveaux successifs auxquels sont perÁus l'exotérique et l'ésotérique de la Révélation qoránique. Ces différents niveaux de révélation du Logos prophétique sont comme tels autant de ´descentes épiphaniques�(tm) du Qorán éternel, á partir de l'archétype du Livre (Omm al-Kitáb ) au niveau du ´secret qui restes enveloppé dans le secret�(tm).[376]

This tetradic structure is also found elaborated by Sayyid Kázim Rashtí in his commentary on the Throne Verse, where he quotes the same double hadíth to which Shaykh Ahmad referred.[377] As we shall see, this commentary appears to solve some of the mysteries surrounding the Bab's colour hierarchy. The commentary proceeds from a discussion of the problem of the "true meaning" of scripture. Connected with the problem of the "true meaning" of scripture is the problem of the manner in which this meaning is ontologically constituted. Ultimately the "true meaning" of scripture, is the domain of the "eternal Imám" as the guardian of the secret of Scripture in all of the various worlds of being. Corbin hastens to add that such a Figure is "non tel ou tel Imám en sa personne empirique."[378] However, in the case of the Bab, the Imám was to become just such a figure.[379]

Each successive level representing one of the four dimensions of the Muhammadan Reality is, as we have seen, the "place of the prophetic message" (mawdi` al-risála). The "journey" from the highest to the lowest, represents stages in the process of the Word becoming Book, in which the secret (sirr) of this Logos is hidden in the literal text, just as the concern was with the way the Word (Logos) became Imám in the previous discussion.[380] The point which Rashtí wishes to make according to Corbin, is that the "Logos-prophet" appears variously through a series of universes, and that each passage or manifestation, from one level to another, implies the concomitant idea of concealment. Therefore each higher degree, represents more fully the actual being of this Logos. We will see this idea expressed by the Bab in his statement that "the higher chain is the ghayb of the lower chain."[381] Because of the participation of the Imáms in this graduated process of manifestation, they may be considered identical with the prophetic principle. Several hadíths support this idea of what Corbin calls "kathenotheism", for example the one quoted from `Alí by Shaykh Ahmad himself: "I am to Muhammad as light is to light." Shaykh Ahmad's explanation is as follows:

This light is totally in Muhammad; it is totally in the Imám `Alí; totally in Fátima; totally in the Imám Hasan; totally in the Imám Husayn; likewise it is in each of the remaining Fourteen Immaculate Ones. Despite its multiplication, the light is one. This is what the Imáms mean when they say: "We are all Muhammad. The first among us is Muhammad. He who is in the middle is Muhammad. The last among us is Muhammad.[382]

To discuss these four "worlds" themselves and the way in which this Muhammadan Reality "appears" in them, Rashtí relies on the symbol of the Throne and the categories of Intellect (`aql), Spirit (rúh), Soul (nafs) and Nature (tabí`a). Just as the primordial Muhammadan Reality is represented by the term "Light of Lights," these four derivative realities are symbolized by the various forms of light in four separate colours, which proceed from the Light of Lights and are the principles of the totality of worlds.

The Intellect of the Muhammadan Reality is the principle of all Intellects and is symbolized by white light, which is the upper right column of the Throne as "the Spirit which proceeds from the divine command" [cf. 16:2]. This Intellect corresponds to the world of jabarút, or anwár, the world of pure Intellects. The Spirit of the Muhammadan Reality is the principle of all Spirits and is symbolized by yellow light, or the lower right column of the Throne. This corresponds to the world of the "higher" malakút. The Muhammadan Soul is the principle of all Souls and is symbolized by green light, or the upper left column of the Throne, and corresponds to the world of the "lower" malakút, also called the `álam al-mithál. The Muhammadan Nature is the principle of all Natures. It is symbolized by red light, or the lower left column of the Throne, and corresponds to the world of bodies (ajsád).[383] The following table puts this hierarchy in a convenient form:

World Colour Function


no colour Secrets (asrár)

Jabarút white light Lights (anwár)

Malakút A yellow light Spirits (arwáh)

Malakút B green light Souls (anfus[384])

Nature red light Bodies[385]

At the level of lahút there is not yet word, name, or description. It corresponds to the first maqám mentioned above sirr muqanna` bi'l-sirr. It is the "abíme insondable" from which eternally issues the divine command through which the Muhammadan Reality or Logos, is brought into being. It is this Logos which is both the knowledge God has of His creation and His own self, and is also designated as the Mother of the Book (umm al-kitáb), which is the Qur'an "dans l'integralité de ses manifestations, degrés, descentes et significations." Corbin compares this idea of the Shaykhís with the corresponding Ismá`ílí apophatic theology which states that the highest level of knowledge accessible to man is the one represented by what is termed the First Intellect, which is also existentiated by an ontologically prior principle forever beyond Being.[386]

It is therefore only below the level of lahút, that the revelation and the Muhammadan Reality acquires existence. In one sense the Qur'an itself is the white light which the Prophet announces to the successive worlds of Spirits, Souls, and Bodies. The fundamental law which determines the way in which this descent occurs employs the hermeneutical principles of exoteric (záhir) and esoteric (bátin). That is, whatever is "apparent" in one world, is "hidden" to the world immediately below it. Thus both the Prophetic Reality and the Revelation are subject to the same hierarchical structure. Sayyid Kázim summarizes the implications of the hierarchy of the Logos as Book in the following statement:

O my brother! Read the Qur'an and never abandon it. It is more valuable for you than anything else. If you persevere you will see the secret of what I have said. After you have understood all this, you will have understood some of the knowledge of the Qur'an. But you will also have understood that it is not possible to read it as it is in itself, because this is impossible for us, the muslimún and mu'minún. This kind of reading is only possible for prophets and Imáms . . . . The relatively small understanding which you have should never be confused with the knowledge of the Qur'an. This is why you must never oppose someone who affirms something and who seeks to prove his statement by reading the Qur'an differently to the way you read it . . . . Whenever you have understood that the true meaning, the spiritual Idea (haqíqa) of the Qur'an is a code (ramz) which only God Most High, the Prophet and the members of his House understand, and that it is the members of this House who teach this code to whoever resides in their House . . . then it will be admitted that the understanding of this code varies according to the diversity of our faculties of understanding.[387]

Just as this hierarchy pertains to the graduated manifestation of the Word, so according to Shaykh Ahmad, does it pertain to the personal spiritual development of the individual believer whose soul is constituted of these four lights. It is for this reason that the revelation may be comprehended by the believer according to the principle that one knows something only because of an a priori correspondence with the thing to be known. Thus individual existence is symbolized by white light; individual identity in this existence is symbolised by yellow light; individual form ("sa détermination et sa mésure") is symbolised by green light; the matter of which this form is composed is symbolized by red light.[388]

The primordial existence which is brought into being by the divine command (i.e., the amr maf`úlí, see above) is the primordial Light of Lights, also referred to as the Light of Fourteen Flames. It forms one sole primordial essence in the same Light from which proceeds the light of the cherubic Intellects or the "Angels of the Veil", and the light from which the prophets were created. The light which constitutes the being of the prophets, is that from which the faithful believers have been created.[389] Corbin's translation of an important passage by Shaykh Ahmad summarizes this idea:

Aucune réalité n'est crée d'une essence de l'irradiation d'une réalité qui lui soit inférieure. Toute réalité inférieure est crée d'une réalité qui lui est supérieure. Une réalité supérieure, c'est par example, le soleil lui-m�(tm)me; la réalité inférieure, c'est son irradiation illuminant la surface de la Terre. Chaque réalité existe en son sens vrai (haqíqat) au rang qui lui est propre, et par rapport á ce qui est au-dessous d'elle; elle est symbole et figure (majáz), effet opéré, par rapport á ce qui est au-dessus d'elle.[390]

In the following examples of hierarchies from the Tafsír súrat al-baqara, these ideas will be more or less faithfully reflected. Because these hierarchies depend upon the Qur'an for some of their terms, there is a certain degree of deviation among them. The hierarchies have as their purpose the affirmation of a rigorous via negativa, and a complementary imamology which ultimately affirms the famous Shaykhí doctrine of the four supports. It seems beyond dispute that at the time he wrote this commentary the Bab fully subscribed to this doctrine. But it also should be pointed out before the Bab wrote the Tafsír súrat al-baqara, he composed a short treatise which is thought to be his oldest surviving work entitled Risálat al-sulúk.[391] Evidence for dating the work is in the reference at the end to Kázim Rashtí, which seems to indicate that Rashtí (d. January 1844) was alive at the time of its writing.[392] However, as the following will demonstrate, apart from the title of the treatise, the contents show strong Sufi influence. In this piece the Bab affirms a doctrine of four supports which may be schematized, in descending order, as follows:

tawhíd hubb qalb

nubúwa habíb fu'ád

waláya muhibb rúh

shí`a mahbúb jism

The first column is described as constitutinq the four supports of religion (dín), and as such those elements are four gates which function only as a whole: "The first is useful only with the last."[393] Altogether they constitute that "Face of God which will never perish." (cf. 28:88) This in turn, is none other than the love of the Family of God, which is the same as the love of God Himself. "It is the 'hidden treasure'" referred to in the famous hadíth qudsí, "I was a hidden treasure and desired to be known, therefore I created mankind in order to be known." The Bab says that this is also alluded to by the Prophet in his statement: "Above every good deed is another good deed until one desires Us. When we are desired, there is no good deed higher."[394] From this statement the Bab derives the elements in the second column. These are four signs (áyát) which issue from the radiance (tajallí) of the Family of God and are "within you, and they are your soul." The elements of the third column come from the following statement:

Whenever these four signs are remembered and you polish your heart and your af'ida become impassioned, and your spirit is vivified and your body trembles from ardent desire (shawq), then you will be one of the people of Paradise and one of the companions of the Commander of the Faithful.[395]

This basic structure is adhered to throughout the commentary on al-Baqara, although not all of the specific elements are present, just as there any reference to a colour hierarchy in the earlier work. The language of this essay strongly suggests that its author is speaking from experience and may therefore consider himself "one of the companions" of `Alí. It will be seen in Part ii that this self-perception became greatly intensified over time, to the point of claiming sufficient authority to promulgate a new Qur'an. Some of this development may be seen in the intervening Tafsír súrat al-baqara.

The first tetrad encountered in the Tafsír súrat al-baqara proceeds from the Bab's discussion of the first verse: Alif Lám Mím. The Bab says that the "People of al-Záhir " recognize in these letters the stations (maqámát) of Muhammad and the Family of Muhammad (ál Muhammad). The alif is the letter of Muhammad himself and is the waláya of God (wa huwa waláyatu 'lláh).[396] This statement possibly refers to the tradition that all of the letters of the alphabet have been generated from the alif.[397] Thus Muhammad, as progenitor of the Imáms, occupies the postion of alif. The lám then, is the letter of `Alí, and the mím is the letter of Fátima.[398] This order of personalities reflects the one found in the commentary on the Fátiha discussed below as a heptadic hierarchy.

The Bab says that God originated (abda`a) the lám and the mim through His command. It would appear that this is meant to affirm the close relationship between the command of God and waláya, inasmuch as the first letter of the word command (amr) is alif. He then says that when these two letters were joined together, the divine imperative "Be thou!" (kun) resulted (fa-`inda 'l-ijtimá` hiya kalima kun). Therefore it is through waláya that `Alí and Fátima, as cosmogonic principles, acquired being, and through the joining of `Alí and Fátima (pre-eternally existent), the universe itself acquired being. As the Bab says, it was "through the divine command that the heavens and the earth were raised up" suggesting the equivalence `Alí/heaven, Fátima/earth. As we shall see, this is born out in explicit terms later in the commentary.[399]

There follows a statement to the effect that the reason maddas appear over the lám and the mím and not over the alif in the Qur'an, is because the alif is "the one which causes waláya to appear directly from God".[400] This probably refers to the absolute and unconditioned aspect of waláya, whereas the madda both etymologically and graphically represents extension or dimension, neither of which are aspects of the pure world of divinity which is in absolute isolation from the rest of the universe.

The Bab then discusses the figure of these three "disconnected" letters in connection with the shaháda:

And this [the "alif lám mím"] is the word of tawhíd, because the letters lá iláh illá alláh are twelve, but their source[401] is only three letters. Namely: the alif, lám, and . The , when it descends through eight worlds, seven active and one passive, appears as the letter mím.[402]

The idea is that the Imáms themselves are the "living letters" of the shaháda. In support of this statement, the Bab quotes the famous hadíth, nahnu al-a`ráf, which may be seen partly as a commentary on Q.7:44-46 attributed to the sixth Imám, Ja`far al-Sádiq.

Sádiq said: "We are the High Places. Except by the path of Our knowledge God is not known. By us God is known and by Us God is worshipped. Were it not for us God would neither be known or worshipped.[403]

Another hadíth quoted here from al-Sádiq pertains directly to the alif lám mím:

It is one letter of the letters of the greatest name of God which the Prophet and the Imám wrote and which is composed of all the disconnected letters in the Qur'an. Whever it is used in prayer it is responded to.[404]

The Bab then quotes a hadíth from the Imám Músá on the Greatest Name:

The letters of the Greatest Name are four. The first is the phrase "There is no god but God"; the second is: "Muhammad is the Messenger of God"; the fourth is: "Us" (nahnu, i.e. we Imáms); the third is: "Our Shí`a."[405]

The Bab explains that this Shí`a has two aspects. The first pertains to all the prophets and trustees (awsiyá') and that even Abraham, when his heart became purified from the disarray of multiplicity, became a member of the Shí`a of `Alí.[406] The second pertains to the believers, who are the "rays of the prophets" (ashi``at al-anbiyá') if they have become purified from the dust of multiplicity and have entered the House of Glory (bayt al-jalál).[407]

This exaltation of the Shí`a is elaborated in the Bab's commentary on 2:2: That is the Book wherein there is no doubt. The Bab says thatthe Book is the Shí`a of `Alí and it is the "greatest Book of the sea of Destiny" (bahr al-qadar), "because in it is the rule (hukm, perhaps 'principle') of all things." He then says that everything in existence (wujúd), is the Book of God. "The prophet dictated it and `Alí wrote it with his own hand. Prior to this act of writing, nothing had existence, the act of writing being the trace (athar) of the activity of the writer."[408] Furthermore, this Book is the first Shí`a which affirmed the `Alí's waláya before any books existed. In this way "the Shí`a is the fourth support" (al-rukn al-rábi`).[409] As such, the Shí`a may be seen to correspond to the fourth column of the Throne discussed above, although the Bab does not refer to Sayyid Kázim's commentary, or for that matter any other work, here or elsewhere in the commentary.[410]

The Bab emphasizes the importance of the Shí`a by saying that the completion of the appearance (zuhúr) of the Alif Lám Mím is dependent upon this Book (i.e., the Shí`a). There is no indication here that zuhúr implies an actual appearance in the world; it is therefore probably meant to refer to the kind of esoteric "descent" through the four ontological levels mentioned above.

In his commentary of 2:5: Those are upon guidance from their Lord, those are the prosperous , the Bab employs the now familiar terms al-bayán and al-ma`ání, in a tetradic discussion of the prosperity (faláh) derived from the quranic word al-muflihún. While the remaining terms al-abwáb and al-imáma are not used explicitly, the discussion appears to presuppose them.

Prosperity is from their Lord and it is according to degrees (daraját):

[1] For the ahl al-bayán [this prosperity] is the same as absolute purity (al-tajríd), and consists of their attainment to the house of divine aloneness (bayt al-tafríd), and their utter devotion to divine unity (al-tawhíd) to the degree that there is no possibility of their mentioning anything but the most mighty and noble remembrance of God.

[2] For the ahl al-ma`ání [this prosperity] consists in the knowledge of the beginnings (al-mabádí, rhymes with al-ma`ání), and their submersion in the ocean of the remembrance of the inclusive unity (wurúduhum fí tamtám dhikr al-wáhidíya), which is the greatest paradise of the good pleasure [of God] (ridwán al-akbar, cf. e.g. Q.9:72 where it is associated with the jannát `adn).

[3] For those who are accounted in the waláya of the family of God [this prosperity consists in] their attainment to the ard al-za`farán, which is the depth of the sea of the Merciful (lujjat al-bahr al-rahmán).

[4] For those who are accounted among the Shí`a of the family of God [this prosperity consists in] their attainment to the red sandhill (kathíb al-ahmar).[411]

Here the four supports are each associated with the dimensions of a single quranic word. As such, the comments are a classic example of the thoroughness with which the Bab applied the Shaykhí doctrine. The origins of the terms ard al-za`farán and kathíb al-ahmar are somewhat obscure. The latter refers to one of the stages of the Hajj ceremony,[412] but along with the former it appears in Rashtí's Sharh al-qasída[413] (one of the books the Bab is said to have owned[414]) in a metaphorical and technical usage.[415] Here both terms are used in the course of other hierarchies. One of these is a discussion of al-muzammil ("enwrapped one", i.e. Muhammad, cf. súra 73), in which Rashtí outlines four separate maqámát of the term, followed by seven separate appropriate "garments" (thawb). (The basic idea is that Muhammad, or the Muhammadan reality, is concealed by a number of veils.) Of these seven garments the second may correspond in some way with the third level of the word "prosperity" as given by the Bab.

[2] The second is the yellow garment (al-ridá') in the yellow veil

and the ard al-za`farán.[416]

Here Rashtí is presuming the above mentioned colour hierarchy of white, yellow, green, and red. The discrepancy between this and the Bab's hierarchy, is accounted for by the fact that the latter begins his tetrad at the level of colourless light or tawhíd (see below). Such a discrepancy offers an example of the way in which these hierarchies may be manipulated to stress a given point. Rashtí refers to the kathíb al-ahmar in a complex hierarchy constructed around the words `arsh and kursí, which are associated respectively with the concepts of "Seal of Prophecy" (khátim al-nubúwa) and "Seal of Waláya". The hierarchy consists of eight stations (manázil). The fourth is described as "the stages of the beginnings (manázil mabádí) and the grades of paradise. Here the Seal of Nubúwa is in the kathíb al-ahmar, while the Seal of Waláya is in the station of al-rafraf al-akhdar."[417] Rashtí's use of these terms possibly represents the Bab's immediate source, or at least a reliable precedent for his employment of them as hierarchical terms. A variation on this tetrad is found at the Bab's commentary on 2:98:

Whosoever is an enemy to God and His angels and His Messengers, and Gabriel, and Michael - surely God is an enemy to the unbelievers.'

[1] The first [i.e. God ] is the sign of the exclusive unity (ahadíya).

[2] The second [i.e. His angels ] is the sign of waláya.

[3] The third [i.e. His Messengers ] is the sign of the risála.

[4] The fourth [i.e. Gabriel ] is the sign of imáma, and

[5] The fifth [i.e. Michael ] is from the sign of the second.[418]

And for each [of these] there are several stations (maqámát), while God is isolated from His creation and His creation is isolated from Him. And whatever is other than Him are [but] His names. And each one speaks about what God has manifested to him by means of him (la-hu bi-hi).[419]

[1] The first is the sign of tawhíd [namely] lá iláh illá huwa. None knows the "how" of Him except Him. How are you then turned away? [10:32]

[2] The second is the sign of `Alí.

[3] The third is the sign of Muhammad.

[4] The Fourth is the sign of Husayn.

[5] The Fifth is the sign of Hasan.

Whosoever is an enemy to God and His names whether this be a drop of sweet water, or a speck of dust upon its earth, then at the time of the impulse to reject (fa-hín al-khutúr bi'l-i`rád), then he is one of the unbelievers. [420]

The fifth item may be seen as accidental, that is, it is conditioned not so much by the standard tetrad already discussed, but by the existence in the quranic verse of five separate elements which require exegesis. This explains why the Bab relegates the fifth item back to the second level. Insofar as this fifth element is accidental, the remaining four elements symbolize once again, the four supports.

This hierarchy is interesting because it ranks waláya above nubúwa. As such, it may be seen as deriving ultimately (although probably not directly) from the mystical philosophy of Ibn `Arabí. Izutsu's study of Ibn `Arabí's theory of waláya has shown that this notion represents a kind of universal and supreme relationship to the divine as a function of which it is possible to say that every prophet is also a bearer of waláya and may therefore be designated, in some sense, as a walí. However, not every walí is the bearer of nubúwa. Thus while Muhammad is a nabí, he is also a walí. It is this fact which renders waláya superior to prophecy.[421] It is also precisely this kind of theory from Ibn `Arabí, which commended his work so well to the concerns of mystically inclined Imámí thinkers, such as Haydar Amúlí and Ibn Abí Jumhúr, who were responsible for its Shí`í assimilation.[422] But, whereas in Ibn `Arabí's thought Jesus is the bearer of absolute waláya (khátim al-awliyá'), according to Shí`í thought it is `Alí who is the par excellence symbol of waláya.

Elsewhere, we find explicit statements which assert this ranking of waláya over nubúwa, for example in the commentary on the following verse:

Knowest thou not that to God belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth, and that you have, none apart from God, neither protector nor helper? [2:107]

That is [this verse is addressed to] all people everywhere: [423]

Knowest thou not that the sign of the Exclusive Unity appearing with the divinity (ulúhíya) is the sign of `Alí?

And that the Essence is more glorious than to be connected to the kingdom (mulk) by means of description ?

And that the kingdom belongs to His walí [alone] and that [kingdom ] is the waláya (here perhaps best translated as "authority") of [the entire process of] Origination and Invention. And for him is set up the kingdom of the sign of the Exclusive Unity over all in the activeheavens and the passive earth. [424]

And that you have none apart from the sign of God [which is] `Alí as a protector (walí), because here the waláya belongs to God, the Truth [18:44].

Nor apart from the sign of the Exclusive Unity any helper in tawhíd. Nor apart from the sign of the Inclusive Unity any helper in nubúwa. Nor apart from the sign of Rahmáníya any helper in waláya.[425]

[Do you not know that ] there are no signs [anywhere] except the signs of his kingdom (i.e. waláya). How is it then that you turn away? [426]

Here it is waláya (not nubúwa) as the fundamental spiritual relationship, which is being emphasized. The key to the statement is the existence in the verse itself of the all-important word friend (walí). The commentary proceeds from the immediate association in the Shí`í mind of `Alí with this term. It is of some interest to note that in this passage the Inclusive Unity is positive, as opposed to those cases mentioned in the previous chapter, where the Inclusive Unity is associated with false waláya. It is explicitly connected with prophecy and therefore Muhammad. Elsewhere in the tafsír, there are explicit statements ranking Muhammad above `Alí:

[God is] the Creator of the heavens and the earth; and when He decrees a thing, He but says to it 'Be,' and it is [2:117].

God designated (ja`ala) the role (maqám) of His own self for Muhammad in Origination and Invention, insamuch as He is above all connection. And thething (amr), in the presence of the Lord (laday 'l-rabb) is `Alí.[427]

It seems that two types of waláya are being suggested: one connected with ahadíya and the other connected with rahmáníya. It is likely that the latter refers to waláya as it is represented in the world (imkán), while the former refers only to the waláya of the unknowable dimension of Essence. The influence of Ibn Arabi may be at work here in the form of his doctrine of "existence as mercy".[428] Another example of the high rank of Muhammad is found in the commentary on the following verse:

We have sent thee with the truth, good tidings to bear, and warning. Thou shalt not be questioned touching the inhabitants of Hell. [2:119]

Verily, God chose (istafá), that is He created, Muhammad in pre-eternity (qidam), which is His self, to stand on the part of the Merciful in all the worlds in Origination and Invention,[429] over all the communities, isolated (munfarid) from all likenesses, and forms (ashbáh), and similarities , since He is independent from any glad tidings and warnings. And He is as the verse: The eyes attain Him not, but He attains the eyes. He is the All-subtle, the All-aware. [6:103].

This re-affirms the supreme rank of Muhammad, but the apparent contradiction remains. This contradiction can perhaps only be resolved by reference to Corbin's kathenotheism and those hadíths, such as the one quoted and commented upon by Shaykh Ahmad, in which the Imáms are equated with Muhammad (see above).

In the commentary on 2:125 we find a tetrad which employs colour symbolism along the lines mentioned earlier:

Covenant means the duty of witnessing God through whatever is other than Him.[430] And by Abraham `Alí is intended just as by Ishmael Husayn is meant because both were killed by the sword alone, may God punish their killer throughout all Origination.[431]

And by [the order to] Purify [He means] the sign of the Exclusive Unity which is manifest in all things from `Alí and Husayn for the sake of Muhammad until those that shall go about it are firmly established therein (i.e, the Exclusive Unity).

[1] [Those that shall go about it ] are the people of the White Depth (lujjat al-baydá'), are those who go about Muhammad above the Throne of Bahá'.[432]

[2] And the ones who cleave to it are the people of the Yellow Qulzum, they cleave (yu`ákifúna) to the sign of Muhammad in the land of the Merciful.

[3] And those who bow are the people of the Green Lujja, they bow to their Creator in the centre of the zone of splendour (qutb mantiqat al-saná') by means of the name of Muhammad, the bearer of Origination.

[4] And those who prostrate are those people of the Yamm of the Red Tamtám, prostrating before God because of the sign of Muhammad [which is] in the souls and the horizons [41:53] in the sanctuary of Husayn.

The Bab says that God made the House of the Exlcusive Unity an abode (marja`) for the Family of God (ál Alláh, the Fourteen Pure Ones), secure from the allusions of everything else, "because they merit the rank of Trusteeship (wisáyat al-rasúl) apart from all others."[433] These comments seem to bear only a superficial relationship with Rashtí's colour hierarchy. The Bab is more interested in the "embodiments" of any principles, such as `aql, rúh, nafs, and tabí`a, than with the principles themselves. Nonetheless, the hierarchy does reflect Rashtí's, as far as the respective "intervals" are concerned.

Another colour tetrad is constructed on the basis of the following verse:

And when Abraham, and Ishmael with him, raised up the foundations of the House: 'Our Lord, receive this from us; Thou art the All-hearing, the All-knowing. [2:127]

God here speaks about the foundations (qawá`id) of the house of the Inclusive Unity which came to be realized (qad tahaqqaqat) through `Alí and Husayn. And when `Alí and his son, the Martyr par excellence (al-shahíd), said:

"Our Lord we accepted (radayná = taqabbal< receive ) martyrdom, do Thou receive from us our manifestation to all other than us. And receive from them the sign of Thy Exclusive Unity which is in them from us.[434] And if it is this sign then it behooves you [to accept it] only because of itself. And nothing in their possible beings (imkánihim)[435] is more lofty than it. Thou art the All-hearing and there is no existence to the heard (al-masmú`) in Thy presence,the All-knowing, and there is no existence to the known (al-ma`lúm)[436] in Thy presence. Exalted art thou. None knows how Thou art except Thee. Thou art the All-hearing,the All-knowing. "

Had it not been for this supplication (du`á) of theirs, God would not have accepted the affirmation of oneness from anyone who affirmed it (min muwahhidín). But, God received their supplication by means of the martyrdom of their selves, for the reception of the very souls of these unitarians in Paradise.[437]

When the two built[438] the House upon four supports [is a statement] for those who subscribe to a fourfold hierarchy (li-ahl al-tarbí`). As for the people of unity (ahl al-wahda, i.e., the Imáms) [this statement refers to] the Exclusive Unity.

[1] And for the people of pre-eternity,[439] one pillar [is raised] in the form (hai'a) of tasbíh, died with the colour of affirming the unity (tawhíd) of God, the Eternal, the Glorious - white.

[2] And a pillar in the form (haykal) of tahmíd, died in the colour of prophecy (nubúwa) - yellow.

[3] And a pillar in the form (shabah) of al-tahlíl (i.e., affirming lá iláh illá 'lláh) dyed with the waláya which is over the letters of al-tahlíl - green.

[4] And a pillar in the form (súra) of al-takbír (i.e, the uttering of alláhu akbar), dyed according to what is best about practicing true devotion (`alá ahsan al-tashayyu`) to the Family of God, the bearer of al-tahlíl, reddened with the red of redness.

In this way did they raise the House on thesefoundations in all the worlds, that perhaps they might believe firmly in the signs/verses of God.[440]

This hierarchy conforms perfectly with the famous doctrine of the four supports, although there is a certain amount of variation among the manuscripts at this point. The hierararchy which this manuscript and the one designated "I"[441] present, may be tabulated as follows:


tasbíh white tawhíd

tahmíd yellow nubúwa

tahlíl green waláya

takbír red tashayyu`

The Leiden manuscript[442] deviates from this schema the most:


tasbíh white nubúwa

----- yellow tahmíd li-lláh

tahlíl green waláya

takbír red tashayyu`

It seems that Leiden is the oldest manuscript extant. It is possible that the somewhat extremist doctrine presented in this schema is the most authentic and one that was later modified by other scribes. The likely alternative is that it is simply an error, and that I and Baq. represent a truer tradition.The Cambridge manuscript[443] carries the following variant:


tasbíh white tawhíd

tahmíd yellow nubúwa

tahlíl green -------

takbír red tashayyu`

Colour symbolism is also found in the Bab's commentary on 2:25, in which he comments on the word rivers . The Bab begins by exploring this verse's meaning on various other levels. He says that there is a specific meaning of the verse for the People of Reality, which may be paraphrased as: "God himself gave (imperative of the Qur'an changed to perfect) the glad tidings to those who believe in `Alí."[444] The way this statement is introduced reveals something of the way the Bab saw himself at this time: hádhihi 'l-áya li-ahl al-haqíqa la-há wijhatun lá ya`rifuhá ghayruhum wa há aná dhákiruhá. Such a statement indicates that not only did the Bab arrogate to himself far-reaching powers of interpretation at this time, but also suggests that he considered himself one of the People of Reality (possibly the Imáms). The authority with which he interprets the Qur'an in such instances, may be thought to contravene the spirit expressed by Rashtí in the statement quoted above which cautions against the imposition of one's reading of the Holy Book on another. Similar indications may be found elsewhere in the commentary, a few of which will be noted in the following chapters.

There is another meaning for the ahl al-bátin (as distinct from the ahl al-haqíqa) in which the verse may be similarly paraphrased: "God himself gave glad tidings to those who believed in Muhammad." A third meaning is for the ahl al-bátin `alá nahj al-záhir. Here the paraphrase is: ". . .to those who believe in the divine origin of the one named `Alí (also the Bab's name: `Alí Muhammad) and who do deeds of righteousness through those names and attributes by which he describes himself."[445] Then the Bab says "the rivers are four so that the lights (viz, of the Throne) can appear in in the world (fí'l-akwár wa'l-adwár)."[446]

[1] The pre-eternal river (al-nahr al-úlá) is a river of white water which flows for the creation of all things (li-khalq al-ashyá'). By it, the hearts are whitened for the affirmation of the unity of the Merciful, and purified of the dust of multiplicity. At the headwaters of this river, is written "There is no god but He, and to Him is the return."

[2] The second river is of yellow milk which flows for the sustenance (rizq) of all things. By it, the intellects are yellowed to [perceive] the nubúwa of the Messenger of God. God wrote at its headwaters, "The excellence of Muhammad over all the other prophets is like My own excellence, and I am the Lord of Might, high above whatever is attributed to Me."

[3] The third river is of pure green honey, flowing for the very life (hayát) of all created things. From it, the souls (al-nufús) are greened so that they might perceive the signs of the Trustees (awsiyá') of the Messenger. God wrote at its headwaters the names of the family of God and their excellence, and their excellence is inexhaustible.

[4] The fourth river is of red wine flowing for the dissolution (kasr) of all things, and their reconstitution (sawgh) by means of the divine verses and tokens. From it, the bodies are reddened for the love of the Shí`a of the pure family of God. God forms the form of the believers in this river. And God wrote at its headwaters: "The love of the Shí`a of `Alí is My fortress (hisn); he who enters My fortress is secure from my wrath."[447]

Here the basic tetrad is once again affirmed through exegesis of the Qur'an. The apparent variation from the tetrad described by Rashtí is a function of the tafsír context, and also the less speculative concerns of the author. In closing this section of his commentary, the Bab says that these rivers represent the respective paradises of Exclusive Unity, Inclusive Unity, Mercy, and the jannat al-khamsa. This last may correspond to a specific level in the heptadic hierarchies, to which we will now turn.

Part i: Chapter 3

Hierarchies -2 (Heptads)

For the first example of a heptadic hierarchy, we need look no further than the Fátiha itself. As stated above, much of this short commentary may be seen as microcosm of the whole tafsír. It is of some interest to notice the old exegetic controversy over the number of verses (six or seven) in this súra, inasmuch as most of the tiering occuring in this commentary does so across a range of seven elements.[448] The Bab characterizes each of the seven verses as a particular paradise or garden (janna), which is associated with one of the seven names by which the fourteen pure ones may be designated. Verse 1 is called the "book" (kitáb) of Muhammad and is also the "garden of Paradise" (jannat al-firdaws). The following table represents the hierarchy presented in the commentary on this súra.[449] However, it should be remembered that Muhammad and the Imáms are seen in some ways, as being of equal rank.





Muhammad firdaws nubúwa



wáhidíya waláya


Fátima na`ím

má hiya ahlu-há






Husayn muqám waláya




not specified





The fourth garden is further defined as the center or axis of all the gardens (qutb al-jinán), perhaps indicating another dimension to this hierarchy. The seven names, represent the different names by which each of the fourteen Pure Ones are known. That is, each of the names Muhammad, `Alí, Hasan and Husayn may be applied to more than one figure. The names Fátima, Ja`far and Músá, however, may only be used once. The name Muhammad is applicable not only to the Prophet himself, but also to Muhammad al-Báqir, the fifth Imám (113/731-32); Muhammad al-Jawád, the ninth Imám (220/835); and Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-`Askarí, the twelfth Imám (also known as al-Mahdí, disappeared 260/873-74). The name `Alí may properly designate not only the first Imám (40/661) but also his grandson `Alí ibn al-Husayn, the fourth Imám (94/712-13); the eighth Imám `Alí al-Ridá (202/817-18); and `Alí al-Hádí, the tenth Imám (254/868). The name al-Hasan may be applied to both the second Imám (50/670) and the eleventh (260/873-74). The result is that although there are fourteen different personalities involved, it may be said that there are in reality only seven different names.[450] That the Bab has chosen to associate each verse with one of these seven names is undoubtedly connected to the way in which he understood one of the more common names for this súra, namely al-sab` al-mathání [cf.15:87], the meaning of which is disputed by the classical exegetes.[451]

Later in the commentary, the Bab states that one of the results of the process of creation (ibdá` and ikhtirá`) is that seven becomes fourteen.

There are seven locations (mazhar) where ibdá` appears, and they are the seven Heavens. The first is the Will (al-mashíya), the second is Specific Purpose (al-iráda), the third is Destiny (al-qadar), the fourth is Decree (al-qadá'), the fifth is Permission (al-idhn), the sixth is Fate (al-ajal), the seventh is Scripture (al-kitáb). Likewise there are seven places where "invention" appears, and they are theseven earths.[452]

In support of this statement the Bab cites the following hadíth from al-Sádiq:

Nothing exists in the earth or in heaven except through these seven stages (khisál): Will, Purpose, Destiny, Decree, Permission, Book, and Fate. Whoever imagines that he can do without any one of these has committed kufr.[453]

All the paradises, except the second (wáhidíya), take their names from various quranic verses: firdaws [18:107; 23:11]; na`ím [several, e.g. 5:65]; `adn [several, e.g. 13:23]; muqám [25:76]; khuld [25:15]; mawá' [e.g., 32:19].[454] Inasmuch as few details are given by the Bab about the nature of these paradises, we can assume that the purpose of the hierarchy is to affirm the sanctity of all the members of the ahl al-bayt, without any appreciable preference for any single one. The statement that the fourth paradise is the axis (qutb) of all the others, is in line with Ptolemaic cosmography which puts the sun in the fourth sphere.

Another seven-level hierarchy is suggested at verse 26, where the Bab cites a hadíth from the seventh Imám, Músá al-Kázim, in which he explains the well-known quranic verse:

Though all the trees in the earth were pens, and the sea - seven seas (of ink), yet would the Words of God not be exhausted. God is All-mighty, All-wise. [31:27]

Kázim said: "These seas are:

[1] The Fountain of al-Kibriyat[455]

[2] The Fountain of al-Yamín,

[3] The Fountain of Abrahút,[456] and

[4] The Fountain of al-Tabríya and

[5] The Reservoir) of the water of the two Sayyids,[457] and

[6] The Reservoir of Ifriqíya, and

[7] The Reservoir of Najrawán.[458]

And we are thewords [of God]; none perceives our virtues, nor any recount.[459]

The Bab adds:

The Imám meant that from each spring there proceeds one of the grades of the Divine Will, and one of the seven gardens of the gardens of the divine Ipseity (al-húwíya). Verily the seas, and whatever has been originated in Origination like them, would be exhausted, but the fruits of this land would not be exhausted, because they have been individuated (tudhuwwita) by the hand of God, if they but knew.

Further information about these gardens or paradises is given in the previously quoted commentary at 2:1: Alif Lám Mím . The Bab says that this verse, as seen by the People of Reality (ahl al-haqíqa, viz, the Imáms, but possibly including others, see the following), is the knowledge (ma`rifa) of God.

Notwithstanding the many letters which compose it, and the several meanings which may be derived from it, the Imáms see it as a single letter with a single meaning (ma`ná). He then says that these People of Reality are the inhabitants of the Garden of Pre-Eternity (jannat al-úlá). Their immortality (baqá') is the immortality of God and they may be properly described by none but themselves. Compared with their station, whatever is other than them is nonexistence.[460] For this reason,[461] there are (li-dhá sára) eight gardens and seven hells. The latter are actually seven shadows (zill), and there are only seven because the first garden is completely cut off from the rest of the gardens and hells.[462] This garden is the Garden of Tawhíd and the Form (shabah) of Tafríd, completely unconnected and incomparable.[463]

The terms zill and shabah, encountered many times in this tafsír, have a long history in Islamic gnostic literature. They may be translated respectively, as shadow and phantom.[464] In the early text Kitáb al-azilla, for example, one finds many contexts in which this terminology is used.[465] The tradition which it represents, often associated with the name of Mufaddal ibn `Umar al-Ju`fí (214/829) reaches back into a very early and unsettled period of Islamic history. The following examples are representative.

In the course of a session with some of his disciples (including al-Mufaddal, on whose authority the hadíth is transmitted) on the subject of the beginning of creation, al-Sádiq asked Yúnus ibn Zabyán (217/832) what the people of Kufa had to say about the first being created by God. Yúnus replied that the people of Kufa say that God created Iblís before He created Adam. al-Sádiq, outraged, replied:

I seek refuge with God from their idle talk! Such is the talk of the unrighteous! God, the Exalted, created light before darkness, good before evil, Paradise before Hell-fire, mercy before punishment, Adam before Iblís, the shadows (azilla, "Schatten") before the phantoms (ashbáh, "Schemen"), and the phantoms before the spirits, and the spirits before the bodies, and the bodies before death, and death before the Passing Away, and the Passing Away before the Arrangement, and the Arrangement before the Rising, and the Rising before the Resurrection, and the Resurrection before the Retribution, and this before the Repentance, and this before the Gathering, and the Gathering He created before the Earth and Heaven, which was in a completely different garb, and God the One, the Almighty, will appear.[466]

In the same vein:

I asked: "My Master, what was the first thing which God created?" al-Sádiq answered: "The first thing God created was the al-núr al-zillí." "From what did He create it?" "He created it out of His Will, after which he divided it. Knowest thou not the word of God in your Book: Hast thou not regarded thy Lord, how He has stretched out the shadow? Had He willed, he would have made it still. Then We appointed the sun, to be a guide to it; thereafter We seize it to Ourselves, drawing it gently. [25:45-6][467]

In another passage, al-Sádiq speaks of the azilla being rewared by God for their act of praise by being clothed with ashbáh.[468] Halm describes these two entities simply as "bodiless first beings." The ashbáh and azilla according to various reports, were created before Muhmammad;[469] elsewhere, the azilla are the as yet unvivified figures of Hell and the ashbáh are the figures of Paradise.[470] They also represent the material out of which not only Adam and his progeny, but also Iblís were created.[471] Halm explains that they represent the two earlier stages in a successsive process by which the primordial Lichtseelen (dharra), due to their fall to earth, acquire density and darkness to become spirits (arwáh) and finally bodies (abdán),[472] yet another tetrad.

The use of these two terms by the Bab seem, in some cases, to reflect the meanings in this early gnostic literature, especialy the term ashbáh (sing. shabah).[473] But a more immediate influence is probably Shaykhí thought in which such terminolgy is used to speak of the `álam al-mithál.[474] Depending on the context, shabah in this tafsír has been translated as "pre-existent form", "lifeless form", "facsimile", or simply "form". This last translation appears to suit the intention of its use in the fourfold colour hierarchy above, where it functions as a synonym for hai'a, haykal, and súra. Nevertheless, even in this context it is possible to read connotations for the overall ontological theory implied in the tafsír. As such, shabah would represent a stage of Being which is still some distance from perfect realization.[475]

To return to the passage from the tafsír translated above, it is possible to see in this schema traces of a traditional spiritual discourse involving the basic structure 7+1. Thus, we find in the writings of the mystic Nur al-Dín Isfaráyiní (717/1317) reference to eight degrees of spiritual ascent, the highest or eighth degree of which is characterized as being beyond opposition and the cosmos, viz, lá makání. Both Najm al-Dín Kubrá and Ahmad al-Ghazálí had previously used the metaphor of this "eighth degree" as the ultimate spiritual goal of the mystic.[476] This basic structure was adopted later by the Shaykhís in order to discuss their views on the thorny question of bodily resurrection. The eventual opponent of the Bab, Karím Khán Kirmání, speaks of eight degrees of paradise, the eighth of which is the domain of the Prophet and the twelve Imáms.

Now, that degree has no opposite, because, ontologically, the Prophet and the Imáms have no opposites. Ontologically, opposites appear only on the level of our existence, that is, of the Shí`ites and the True Faithful. That is why the Antagoniste [possibly a direct reference to the Bab], in the true and ontological sense, is the adversray of the Shí`ites, or the adepts of the holy Imáms. But they, that is, the Prophets and the Imáms, have neither opposite nor adversary in the true and essential meaning of the word, because the adversaries themselves rank below them.[477]

Following these indications, the above chart might be revised as:







habit. of Imáms


Muhammad firdaws nubúwa



wáhidíya waláya


Fátima na`ím

má hiya ahlu-há






Husayn muqám waláya









The next tiering occurs in the commentary on 2:2, where the Bab singles out the nouns hidáya ("guidance" derived from the quranic hudá) and taqwá ("piety" derived from al-muttaqín) for special consideration. Each of the two terms are considered on several levels, each level is associated with a specific group or identity. It is here that we encounter those terms which played such an important role in Shaykh Ahmad's discussion of imáma. To introduce these hierarchies the Bab says:

Guidance from God is the creation of the thing (íjád al-shay'); guidance from Muhammad is the "Most Great Office" (al-sifárat al-kubrá, i.e., nubúwa); guidance from `Alí is the bestowal (`atá) to each according to his due. Guidance at the level of the Imáms is therefore one, but involves these three relationships.[478]

The Messenger of God said: "I am the warner, and `Alí is a guide (hádi)."

[1] And his guidance[479] for the People of al-Bayán is his revelation to them by means of them (la-hum bi-him) that: "There is no god but He, the truth (al-haqq), Like Him there is naught, He is the All-hearing, the All-seeing . [42:11]

[2] And for the People of Meanings (ahl al-ma`ání), guidance is that Muhammad is unique (munfarid) in the world (fí 'l-imkán) with regard to likeness and similarity (nazír, shabíh), and God raised him up in the station of His self in realization (fí'l-adá') in all the worlds after the manner of the statement: The eyes attain Him not, but He attains the eyes, He is the All-Subtle, the All-aware. [6:103].[480]

[3] And for the People of the Gates (ahl al-abwáb) [theguidance is that] the Family of God (ál alláh) is the locus of the appearance (mazhar) of Muhammad on the level of gnosis and realization (fí 'l-ma`rifa wa 'l-adá') in all the worlds, potential or actual (al-imkán wa'l-akwán). By means of them all movements move, and all rests rest.

[4] And for the People of the Imamate (ahl al-imáma), guidance is that the trustees (awsiyá) of Muhammad are twelve souls. And they are the letters of lá iláh illá alláh in the sacred scriptures (fí 'l-ruqúm al-musattarát). And that Fátima, the Truthful and Pure (al-siddíqa al-táhira) is unique, except for the Imáms, apart from all things. All must approach her in servitude.[481]

[5] And for the People of the Supports (ahl al-arkán), guidance is support (rukníya).

[6] And for the People of Deputies (al-nuqabá'), it is deputyship (al-naqába).

[7] And for the People of the Lieutenants (al-nujabá'), it is lieutenantship, (al-najába).

[8] And to all [others], it is according to their state (bi-má huwa `alayhi). And all of the above is His manifestation to everything other than He, by means of everything other than He.

The terminology of this particular hierarchy comes directly from the hadíth quoted in the previous chapter ascribed to the fourth Imám, Zayn al-`Abidín. It is assumed that the Bab was acquainted with it (although he never quotes it as such) either through those writings of Shaykh Ahmad which he is known to have possessed, or other sources.[482] Although the first element of the Bab's hierarchy does not explicitly mention tawhíd, as in the case of Shaykh Ahmad's commentary; but, the gist of his statement amounts to the same, which is in Corbin's words, "l'Unification de l'Unique au situs de la théologie négative ou apophatique".[483] Therefore, the designation ahl al-bayán is rightly applied only to those who have perfectly accomplished the act of affirming divine unity, namely the Imáms. As for the term al-bayán as used by the Bab, it is taken from the second tradition quoted earlier from the fifth Imám, Muhammad al-Báqir, and quoted here again for convenience:

Baqir said: "O Jábir! Upon you be al-bayán and al-ma`ání. " Jábir said: "And what is al-bayán and al-ma`ání ?" Baqir answered: "As for al-bayán it is that you recognize that God is He of whom it is said: Like Him there is naught [42:11], and to serve Him and to not share with anything the devotion which is due Him to any extent whatsoever. As for al-ma`ání ,We are His ma`ání, His side (janb), His hand, His tongue, His cause, His rule, His knowledge, His truth. Whatever We will, God wills; and God purposes what We purpose. . . . . And We are the Face of God which moves about in all directions in the earth in your midst (bayna azhari kum). He who has recognized us has certitude (yaqín) itself for an Imám. He who is ignorant of us has Sijjín for an Imám.

Here the term al-bayán ("highest truth"), is defined by the same quranic citation [42:11] found in the Bab's statement. The term al-ma`ání is also further clarified as referring directly to the Imáms themselves. At this level, the Imáms would represent "les concepts positifs de Dieu, les qualifications divines qui ont une signification pour nous."[484] Whereas at the level of bayán, they represent the unknowableness of God.

The remaining categories of the hierarchy presented by the Bab represent a descending order of spiritual rank. The point being made here is the same one quoted from Rashtí in the previous chapter: scripture carries a number of meanings, each one as "correct" as the other, depending upon the spiritual rank, or ability to understand, of a given reader. The hierarchy indicates that these various meanings function in harmony. The distinctive terminology of this hieararchy appears to place the author firmly in the Shaykhí tradition.

The designations arkán, nuqabá', and nujabá' found in the above-mentioned hadíth require some explanation. It is clear that these three levels are inferior to imáma, but it is not clear precisely to whom they refer. It is likely that the Bab's hierarchy, apart from being conditioned by the hadíth from Zayn al-`Abidín, refers to the tradition of the spiritual elite who, from generation to generation, maintain true religion. This elite however, is recognized only by a select group of followers, while the majority of people remain ignorant both of the elite itself and their teaching.[485] In Shaykhí theology, the community of those who are so privileged represent the so-called "fourth support" of religion, namely the Perfect Shí`a. The first three supports are tawhíd, nubúwa, and imáma/waláya. The Bab clearly subscribes to this idea in this tafsír when he states explicitly that "the Shí`a is the fourth support."[486]

The arkán can refer to four persons, who subsist unchanged from age to age, and can also possibly refer to those prophets who were "raised by God" without suffering death, namely Idrís, Ilyás, Khidr, and `Isá.[487] Corbin insists that this hierarchy, as elaborated by the Shaykhís, functions only in the invisible realm (i.e., the `alám al-mithál).[488] It remains to be seen whether this is so in the present context, inasmuch as there is not a single explicit reference to this imaginal world in the Bab's tafsír; but neither does the Bab offer any other clues about the identity of these mysterious individuals. It may be helpful, therefore, to summarize Corbin's study of this problem.

What seems to be clear is that the arkán, nuqabá', and nujabá' represent hierarchical levels between an ecclesia spiritualis and the Imáms themselves. The arkán, generally speaking, refer to those four prophets mentioned above who were "raised up by God" without suffering death. Nuqabá' derives from the quranic reference to the twelve chiefs of Israel [5:12], but may be thought to refer to those thirty "spiritual princes" mentioned in a hadíth attributed to al-Sádiq, who enjoy communication with the hidden Imám throughout the period of Major Occultation. The nujabá' have traditonally been seen as a group of forty, whose spiritual status is immediately inferior to the nuqabá'. The total number of nuqabá' and nujabá' is seventy, a number which remains constant, although the various members are replaced by others over time. Their number and function is determined in correspondence with the idea of the descent of the divine names to our world. Shí`í theologians record that some have added another category below the nujabá', an equally permanent group of 360 (the number of degrees of the celestial sphere) subject to the same kind of substitution as the other categories. These are referred to as the Just and the Wise. This last category is not attested in the teachings of the Imáms. In addition, there are several variants for the whole scheme, as in the case of one report in which al-Sádiq fixes the number of nuqabá' at twenty-eight, and the number of the nujabá' at twelve. Among these forty (the number of the nujabá' mentioned above), are found an unspecified number of abdál and awtád.[489]

Corbin also draws attention to the following passage from a work ascribed to the Ismá`ílí master of Alamút, al-Hasan al-Sabbáh (518/1124):

Nos Maítres ont declaré: d'entre les humains nous avons élu quatre mille hommes; d'entre ces quatre mille, quatre cents; d'entre ces quatre cents, quarante; d'entre ces quarante, quatre; d'entre ces quatre, un unique est le póle (qotb). La stabilité du monde repose sur lui; pas un instant le monde n'existe sans lui, car, sans lui, le monde ne pourrait persévérer dans l'�(tm)tre.[490]

Another variant of the tradition is found in work of Rúzbihán Baqlí, in which six categories are associated with the prophets Adam, Moses, Abraham, and the angels Gabriel, Michael and Seraphiel. One, as qutb al-aqtáb, is identified as the Imám himself, specifically the hidden Imám.[491] Corbin points out that all of the various numbers are symbols, which refer to "certaines correspondances cosmiques et au rhythme m�(tm)me de l'ordination de l'�(tm)tre," or tartíb al-wujúd.[492] According to Sayyid Kázim Rashtí. the arkán, nuqabá', and nujabá' represent three "curtains" (riwáq) of the Imám, who is in this metaphor, a "gate" (báb).[493] In a long passage in his Sharh al-qasída, in which he discusses the whole structure, Rashtí compares this hierarchy with the Sufi doctrine of the abdál ("substitutes"). However, he then insists that contrary to what he believed earlier, he has been inspired to know now that a higher rank can never be replaced by a lower rank, contrary to the Sufi doctrine.[494] According to the Shaykhís, all of these mysterious persons are intended to remain anonymous. As intermediaries between the Imám and other men, they are also invisible (rijál al-ghayb), and will remain hidden until the Last Day (yawm al-dín). The eventual opponent of the Bab, Karím Khán Kirmání, speaks of the hierararchy as follows:

The knowledge of the nuqabá' and the nujabá' is not possible at this time. It is not permitted to even ask to discover their individual identities or names. Furthermore, it is not possible for them to respond to such a request because at this time they are the Holy Name of the Imám and during the time of occultation it is not permitted to pronounce this Name.[495]

This secrecy is due to the incapacity of men to perceive, as a result of their having veiled themselves, presumably through their own deeds and thoughts. In the Bab's commentary, which was written before Kirmání's statement, it seems clear that the Bab subscribed to a similar view, although except in discussions of the hidden Imám, there are no explicit statements to this effect. However, it is also true that in the short space of a few months, he was to identify an actual earthly hierarchy of spiritual elite, as in the case of the "letters of the living".[496] (This is explained by the fact that by this time, the Last Day, according to the Bab, had occurred.) Ther are also various indications throughout the text of this commentary that the Bab regarded himself as an elite of some kind, although he never makes an explicit claim for this either. If the "true" Shaykhí position is as Kirmání suggests, and if the Bab was a "faithful" Shaykhí, the events which were to follow, in the space of two or three months, represent a dramatic break with the teachings of Sayyid Kázim, his "revered teacher". In light of this, it is perhaps advisable to see in his hierarchies a possible allusion to both their záhirí and bátiní implications.

With the comparison of the Shaykhí hierarchy with Ibn `Arabí's, mentioned earlier, it is obvious that both schemes share many functional similarities, although they undoubtedly have long and separate histories. The important difference resides in the fact that for Ibn `Arabí, even though he recognized such categories as awtád, nuqabá' , nujabá', and even rijál al-ghayb, Sufism in general also supports the all-important institution of shaykh (sometimes referred to as qutb) which must be an actual person. The Bab was eventually to join features of the two traditions in a combination that could scandalize both equally, but for different reasons.[497]

In the next hierarchy, the terminology changes. Still commenting on the same verse [2:2], the Bab discusses the various levels of the word taqwá.

God's guidance is the same as that which is implied in the word al-muttaqín. Taqwá has several degrees (daraját).

[1] The first degree of piety is for the People of Reality (haqíqa) and al-Bayán, and consists in the aboliton of all "veils of glory" (al-i`rád `an al-subuhát), the effacement of all idle fancies (mahw al-mawhúmát) and rending all veils (hatk al-astár) and attainment to the House of Glory (bayt al-jalál) and abiding in the station (maqám) of: "We are He and He is Us".[498]

The Bab adds that this station is above even this statement, because these people are purified (munazzahún) above all names and attributes.

[These] words pertain to others (aghyár). . . . whereas these are the People of Pure, Definitive Concentration (al-tawajjuh al-baht al-bátt) [in which] the One concentrated upon is the same as the concentration, and the knowledge is the same as the object of knowledge.[499] In their grade (rutba), there is no trace of ordinary ego (inníya al-sulúhíya). For how could it be that what pertains to others pertain also to them? Nay, rather they are the People of the Depth of the Divine Ipseity (lujjat al-huwíya). As the Imám (anon.) has said: "O Lord! Cause me to enter the depth of the sea of Thy Exclusive Unity, that to which no name or representation pertains."[500] Whoever questions their mandate (haqq) has indeed committed kufr.

[2] Taqwá for the Specified Ones (al-khissísín) is the abandoning of whatever distracts them from God, and their attainment to the City of the Inclusive Unity (wáhidíya) at a time when its people were unheeding. [28:15]. This is the degree [which is represented by the next phrase of the above-quoted prayer of the Imám]: "and the boundless ocean of Thy inclusive unity". It is also alluded to in the prayer for the day of al-Sha`bán, in which the Imám (anon.) says: "O my God! Grant me perfect detachment and illumine the sight of our hearts through the light of beholding you . . . so that our spirits may become dependent upon the might of Thy holiness. O my God! Make of me one who when you call him he responds and when you behold him he swoons before Thy glory, and when You confide in him secretly he carries out the command publicly."[501]

[3] [Taqwá] for the "ordinary elite" (ahl al-khawáss) is the Most Great Infallibility al-`ismat al-kubrá); it is that taqwá which prevents them from neglecting the remembrance of God.[502] They see nothing but that they see God with it, and see no light but His light and hear no voice but His voice,[503] and are permanent dwellers (yaqifúna) in the station of "He is He and We are We" [and] "I serve Thee not from fear of Thy wrath neither from hope for Thy good-pleasure; nay, rather [it is that I find Thee simply] deserving of servitude (`ibáda), therefore I [have no choice but to] worship Thee."[504]

[4] The sign (`aláma) of taqwá for the Wayfarers (sálikín) is that he [the individual sálik] does not see himself dwelling in remembrance (dhikr) of the Merciful One (al-rahmán).[505] They are men whom neither commerce nor trafficking diverts from the remembrance of God [24:37] and they remember God in private and public [506] with the statement[507] of their Imám al-Husayn:

Is there any other beside Thee, O Lord, who can manifest that which is not yours [already] to such an extent that he is your manifestor (muzhir la-ka) when Thou art absent so that Thou art in need of some kind of evidence which proves Thine existence, and when Thou art far so that there are traces which might connect to Thee? Blind is the eye that does not see Thee, and Thou continuest to be over it (the eye: `alayhá) a watcher (raqíban). And for that servant who has no share of Thy love is a poor bargain (khasarat safaqa).[508]

[5] [Taqwá] for the People of Externals (ahl al-záhir) is that none sees God as his Lord, under any circumstances (fí hál), unless he is obedient to Him.[509]

The following hadíths follow as a corroboration of this statement:

[1] The Messenger of God said: "Perform the laws of God and be the most pious of men!" And Abú Ja`far [al-Báqir] said: "O company of the Shí`a!" that is the Shí`a of the family of Muhammad (ál Muhammad) "Be ye a middle position so that the one who has gone too far (ghálí) might return to you and that the one who has not gone far enough (tálí) might catch up with you."[510]

[2] Then he [anon.,perhaps a continuation from al-Báqir above, or a separate report] said: "By God! We are without separation from God through independence; nor is there between us and God any kinship. We have no argument against God. And none may approach God except by means of obedience (al-tá`a). Whoever of you is obedient to God, then him will our waláya benefit. Whosoever from among you is disobedient (`así) to God, our waláya will never benefit. Woe unto you (wayhakum)! Be not deluded!"

[3] Báqir said: "The Messenger of God delivered a sermon during the Farewell Pilgrimage, he said: 'O people! By God! There is nothing that will draw you near to Paradise (janna) and far from Hell but that I have given it to you as a positive command (amartu). And there is nothing that will draw you near to Hell and far from Paradise but that I have forbidden it to you (nahaytukum). Indeed, (a-lá) the Faithful Spirit[511] breathed into my soul:[512] 'A soul will never die until it has used up its [preordained] sustenance (tastakmila rizq-há).' So fear God and a perform well in asking for your needs (al-talab), and He will not burden any of you with causing you to wait unduly for what you require, if He is asked without [ulterior or unethical] intent,[513] for none is aware of what is with God except by means of obedience."

[4] Hasan b. `Alí Abú al-Hujjat[514] said in his clear and salubrious explanation (fí tafsíri-hi) of this statement to the godfearing of the Shi`a of Muhammad and `Alí [it means]: "Fear all kinds of kufr; that is: abandon them! And fear the large sins; that is abandon them! And fear the disclosure of the secrets of God and the secrets of the pure ones among His servants who are his trustees (awsiyá) after Muhammad; that is: keep them hidden! And fear the secret of the sciences of the people who deserve them; that is spread them only among them!"

The Bab closes this section with:

And all that I have mentioned to you in the matter (sabíl) of taqwá, both as regards its secrets and those things which may be publicly known, is the fruit of tawhíd (thamaratu'l-tawhíd), but none recognizes it save the People of Tawhíd and Tafríd.[515]

There are in this hierararchy certain similarities with the previous one. For example, the reference at the first level to absolute transcendence (munazzahún) coincides with the level of bayán or tawhíd discussed above. It would therefore correspond to the eighth, or highest level. The second stage, specified for the khissísín, speaks of a relationship between the subjects and God, whereas the first level of taqwá was "beyond" relationship. The term khissísín may be thought to reflect the usage of Shaykh Ahmad in his discussion of the various grades of the believer.[516]

At the third level, this relationship becomes even more sharply articulated so that the clear distinction "He is He and we are we" is made. At this level, which corresponds to the level of abwáb above, the idea of mediation is implied. The term al-khawáss as used by Shaykh Ahmad, however, appears to pertain to a higher level.[517] At the fourth stage of taqwá, the grade of "seeker" is introduced with the traditional Sufi term sálik. The implication here then would be that some kind of "leader" (Imám) is required, as in the Bab's reference to "their Imám al-Husayn." Thus the fourth level of the previous hierarchy, imáma, is also implied.

The fifth and final stage would appear to encompass the lower levels of arkán, nuqabá', and nujabá' from the emphasis which the Bab places in it on obedience to the sharí`a, as seen in those hadíths quoted above. It would appear from this that those levels which are ranged above this lowest one also assume obedience to the law, but because of the greater spiritual capacity which they imply, perception of (or "contact" with) the divine in this world is accomplished through other means as well. The fifth level is distinct from the others in that the ahl al-záhirín see nothing beyond "mere" obedience. The above hierarchy may be schematized as follows:

[1] ahl al-haqíqa wa'l-bayán huwíya[518] We are He and He is Us

[2] al-khissísín


[3] ahl al-khawáss

------- We are we and He is He

[4] al-sálikín


[5] ahl al-záhir

sharí`a obedience

Inasmuch as the first level represents absolute transcendence and is therefore beyond functional utility, it appears that the fifth level is meant to suggest again the Shaykhí doctrine of the "fourth support".

The next hierarchy is that found in the commentary at verse 3, concerning the obligation of faith (imán) derived from the verb yu'minúna.

Imán has several grades and degrees (marátib wa daraját):

For the People of Tajríd (ahl al-tajríd), [imán] is the same as al-tafríd.[519]

The terminology here, as in the case with sálik, is that of Sufism. Tajríd refers to a state of absolute purification, while tafríd refers to the assimilation by the mystic of the quality of divine "aloneness". The terms are seen by one author to be connected to the formula lá iláha illa'lláh. Here, the first half of the statement corresponds as a negation to the detachment indicated in the word tajarrud, while the second half as an affirmation corresponds to tafarrud.[520] These terms appear elsewhere in the Bab's tafsír and it is almost certain that they refer to the Imáms themselves, either as non-material entities or otherwise spiritually pure beings. Thus their accomplishment of the quality of "divine aloneness" is equated with a pure act of faith, whereas faith at lower levels is represented by progressively less demanding accomplishments. The Bab says that in all other cases imán consists in the belief that there is a certain amount of divine truth in every sign (áya), "from the meanest to the noblest"[521] which God reveals (tajalla) to the "people of God" (ahl al-haqq). "And if people really knew how God had created mankind, none would ever blame another." [522]

The remaining seven grades of faith are represented by the following groups:

[1] The People of the Garden of the Divine Will (al-mashíya).

[2] The People of the Garden of the Divine Purpose (al-iráda).

[3] The People of the Garden of the Sea of Divine Decree (bahr al qadar).

[4] The People of Garden of Eden (al-`adn).

[5] The People of the Garden of the Divine Permission (al-idhn).

[6] The People of the Garden of Eternity (al-khuld).

[7] The People of the Garden of the Divine Refuge (or Repose, al- mawá).

And for each level of these seven, there are an unlimited number of enclosures (hazá'ir), and the dwellers therein are servants whose number none but him whom God willeth can know.[523]

This is another expression of the "eight paradises" motif, which is also found in later Shaykhí works that treat the question of Heaven and Hell.

When it is said that Paradise is in Heaven and Gehenna is in the Earth, that is because the human being has two dimensions: a dimension of light and a dimension of darkness. His dimension of light is the Heaven of his being; his dimension of darkness is the Earth of his being. Every faithful act a man does is done through the dimension of Light. Then he is wholly luminous, celestial, subtle. Conversely, his betrayals and denials come from the dimension of darkness; he is then wholly dark, earthly, dense, opaque. . . .

Now, Paradise includes eight degrees; Hell contains seven. Each of these stages contain several enclosures; however, there is one degree of Paradise that does not include a plurality of enclosures. [524]

This represents a most interesting point of agreement between two authors who were eventually to become representatives of opposing camps. This example shows how the basic elements of Shaykhism were susceptible of assuming (or producing) such different forms, depending upon the uses to which they were put. For Karím Khán, the author of the above statement, eschatology was to be worked out exclusively within the soul of each believer; whereas for the Bab this eschatology eventually involved events in the world "outside".[525]

In the following hierarchy of virtues, or aspects of faith, the Bab refers directly to the "return" long awaited by the Shí`a. Following a hadíth from al-Sádiq,[526] the Bab associates each with one of the seven names mentioned in the commentary on the Fátiha. These virtues are :

[1] righteousness (al-birr): Muhammad

[2] truthfulness (al-sidq): `Alí

[3] certainty (al-yaqín): Hasan

[4] contentment (al-ridá): Husayn

[5] faithfulness (al-wafá'): Fátima

[6] knowledge (al-`ilm): Ja`far

[7] forbearance (al-hilm): Músá.

Then He divided that [among mankind: qasama dhálika] and he in whom He has placed all seven portions, he is a perfect bearer.[527] And He apportioned to some people one share, and to some two, and to some three, and so forth up to the seven.[528]

It will be noticed that the order of the names here differs slightly from that found in the previous commentary on the Fátiha. Fátima has been moved from third to fifth place, thereby elevating both Hasan and Husayn one level. It is not clear what significance, if any, this change indicates. The Bab ends this discussion with the following statement:

May God bless them all! He who believes in them and in their ghayb, that is, of these seven when they are doubled, then he is a pure believer.[529]

Still at 2:3, the Bab now discusses the significance of the word ghayb:

And the Unseen is Muhammad because he is absent to whatever is other than he. None knows his true essence (kunh) but God. But the specific place of this ghayb,is the Qá'im, Muhammad ibn al-Hasan.[530] He is the one about whom Sádiq spoke when asked about al-ghayb in this verse. He said: "It is the hidden proof (al-hujjat al-ghá'ib): `Alí is the same as the Messenger of God as he clearly indicated in his lofty statement: 'My záhir is imáma and my bátin is a forbidden hiddenness of which none is aware.'

There are an unlimited number of grades to al-ghayb. For example: potentiality is hidden from actuality in every world accordingly. Or: the true state of the higher chain [of events] is hidden from the lower chain. This is eternally the case, in matters both universal and particular, whether of realities or mere attributes. And all this is from the point of view of limitation and multiplicity.[531]

In the following, the emphasis is once again on obedience to the law for those who are described as the ahl al-záhir.

[1] But for the ahl al-bayán (i.e., the Imáms), al-ghayb is the same as al-shaháda (the hidden is the same as the visible), and the visible is the same as the hidden. And none knows the hidden except God.

[2] And according to the ahl al-záhir, and it (al-záhir) is the same as al-bátin according to the ahl al-bátin, it is as Abú 'l-Hujjat al- Hasan al-`Askarí said in the tafsír of this verse:

those who believe in the Unseen , that is (ya`ní) in that which is hidden from their senses about those things which faith obligates them, like the resurrection (al-ba`th), the judgement (al-hisáb), Paradise (al-janna), Hell (al-nár), and the tawhíd of God, and the rest of whatever is not known by seeing, although it may be known by rational proof (dalá'il). [They are what] God established (nasaba), like Adam and Eve and Idrís and Núh and Ibráhím and the prophets in whom faith is obligatory, and in the Proofs (hujaj) of God, even though they be invisible.[532]

The next hierarchy occurs at the second half of the third verse: and expend of that We have provided them . The Bab arranges the ideas of divine sustenance (rizq) and its expenditure (infáq > yunfiqúná) in hierarchical form, introduced by the following statement:

That is to say (ay): Their [the Imám's] souls have become a locus of the divine mercy (mazhar al-rahmáníya) and they bestow that which God bestowed upon them upon each [man] according to what he deserves.[533]

[1] For the People of Wisdom (ahl al-hikma) [this bestowal is] the secrets of the sciences and the realities and [the secrets of] the clear verses (al-áyát al-muhkama).

[2] For the People of Admonition (ahl al-maw`iza) [this bestowal is] the esoterica (al-bawátin) and the knowledges (al-ma`árif) and the imperatives of justice (furúd al-`ádila).

[3] For the People of Disputation (ahl al-mujádala) [this bestowal consists of] the externals (al-zawáhir) and the superficialities[534] about those things which they agree upon concerning the paths of righteousness (turuq al-hisán) for the tranquility of their souls (li-sukún anfusi-him). God has forbidden them what He has permitted others because they are an uncouth rabble (hamaj ra`á`).[535]

These three categories are derived from 16:125: Call thou to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and good admonition, and dispute with them in the better way . The first two categories are quoted in another verse of the Ziyárat al-jámi`a, where Shaykh Ahmad takes the opportunity to specify that all three categories are different types of divine proofs, which are suited to three classes of men. From this explanation, which bears some resemblance to the words of the Bab, we learn that the first category pertains to the heart (fu'ád) and the pure innate character of man (fitra), which enables him to read what has been written by God "in the horizons and in the souls" which point to the true meaning of all things as they are (ma`rifat al-ashyá' kamá hiya). Furthermore, these are things which are in a condition ontologically prior to their appearance in this world (hiya ashbáh al-ashyá' wa azillatu-há bi'l-haqq).[536] This kind of proof (dalíl) is reserved for the "believer whose heart has been tested for faith" and is therefore accounted as genuine (sádiq) with God, the Messenger and his Trustees.

The second category represents a proof which is suitable for those who approach God according to the law (`alá hudúd al-`aql al-shar`í) by means of which they hope to gain Paradise. The third category represents those who regard only the outer meaning (qishr) of a statement and are unable to appreciate the first two kinds of proof. These include "some ordinary people and some of the theologians and legalists" (min al-nás wa min al-mutakallimín wa'l-fuqahá'). [537]

The Bab outlines the levels of infáq according to the eight different paradises:

[1] Expenditure is the bestowal upon the people of the Garden of Paradise (jannat al-firdaws) of the secrets of the divine will(asrár al-mashíya) and the tablets of divine knowledge (alwáh al-ma`rifa), as befits the might of their holiness.

[2] And upon the people of the Highest Garden (al-`álíya) [the bestowal is] the limitless, secondary, eternal, divine secrets and the knowledge of the highest purpose (iráda) of God.[538]

[3] And for the ahl jannat al-na`ím [the bestowal is] the secrets preserved in the unplumbed billowing seas,[539] namely the secret of the divine decree (sirr al-qadar) and the perfect understanding of the principle of "choice" (ikhtiyár) which applies to all created things. [This principle is]: That God does not compel or force His amr, nay rather He created all created things according to the mystery (sirr) of choice (ikhtiyár). And this door (báb) was made wide open for this soul, wider than what is between the heaven and the earth.[540] [This mystery of choice] is the bright sun about which nothing but the Ancient, the Single is fully informed.

[4] And for the People of the Garden of Eden (ahl jannat al-`adn) [The bestowal is of] the secrets of the divine decree (al-qadá) and divine change of mind (al-badá'). That is, [they understand] how the divine signature (imdá') is suspended at the occurrence of divine change of mind (al-badá').[541] [They] know that this garden is higher than all the other gardens. It is limitless (lá hazíra la-há) and it is the centre (qutb) of all the gardens and the other gardens revolve around it and the knowledge of its inhabitants.

[5] And for the People of the Garden of Duration (ahl jannat al-muqám) [the bestowal is] the secrets of the stations of God and His tokens.

[6] And for the people of the Garden of Eternity (khuld) [the bestowal is] the secrets of the veils and the hidden pavillions (al-suradaqát) and the knowledge of the way in which the divine glory (al-bahá) and beauty (al-jamál) are related (ta`allaqa) to the People of Glory and Perfection (ahl al-majd wa'l-kamál, i.e., the Imáms).

[7] And for the people of the Garden of Repose (mawá) [the bestowal is of the] knowledge of [the station of] the further mosque [17:1] including [the station of] or closer still [33:9].

[8] And for the people of the Garden of Peace (al-silm) [cf. 2:208] [the bestowal is] security (al-saláma) from all but God. And it is the [station of that] poverty which the Messenger of God prided himself in,[542] because he had expended all for the sake of God, and he became annihilated while nothing of his own existence remained. And when he had expended all of what God had supplied him, God made him immortal (báqíyan) by means of His own immortality so that his annihilation was the same as (`ayn) his immortality, and his poverty was the same (`ayn) as his self-sufficency. He who obeys [God] (atá`a) as the Messenger of God did in responding to the admonition to expend , that one will enter into [the very essence] of this verse. Otherwise, God will do with him what He wills.

And that is the greatest grade of expenditure for the people of the abode of peace, none knows it except he who enters the house of God, the Generous and drinks from the cup of His ancient glory (majdihu al-qadím). And when he enters and drinks he is proven worthy of the abode of peace.

The Bab says that just as infáq exists on these positive levels, it is also applicable to the inhabitants of the seven Hells, according to specific misdeeds. In fact, all created things have been given infáq according to their respective capacities.[543] The hierarchy of creation is further pointed out in the following statement:

And each thing has been put in its proper place: the realities (haqá'iq) in the realities, and the gems in the mines[544] and the attributes in the attributes, and the accidents in the pre-existent forms (ashbáh). The believers have been given pity (ráfa) and humility (khudú`) and are under divine protection and mercy. While for the unbeliever vengeance and error have been given. Nothing has been named except by that which God, the Messenger or the awliyá' have named it.

Báqir has said: "Whoever calls a date pit a pebble or a pebble a date-pit, that one is condemned and he is a polytheist."[545]

Such a statement emphasizes the sanctity of names and words and depends upon the theory that all language is generated from divine revelation and that even the most insignificant element of creation, or those elements which are considered unworthy, nonetheless play an integral part in the divine economy. The Bab's closing remarks relate the "law" of expenditure to the concrete world of the sharí`a:

And concerning infáq, at the time of Salát - it is Salát

and at the time of Zakát, Zakát

and at the time Fasting, Fasting

and at the time of Hajj, the Hajj

and at the time of Jihád, Jihád.

And all of that is but a drop (rashha) concerning the principle of expenditure, but the whole subject is completely understood by the People of Tafáq.[546]

Another heptad is found at the commentary on 2:5.[547] Here, the various grades are described most fully. After mentioning all twelve Imáms, the Bab comments on the following:

Those are upon guidance from their Lord (rabb), those are the ones who prosper (al-muflihún).

[1] The Lordship of the pure Ancient Essence and it exists even when there is no object of Lordship (idh lá marbúb) mentioned or seen, [and this Lordship] is not comprehended (lá iháta). He has ever been a Lord even when there is no marbúb; He is now as He was (al-án ka-má kána). His lordship is exalted and sanctified above the reach of any hand but His. There is no statement (kalám), no utterance (bayán), no presentation (rasm), no name (ism), no expression (`ibára), nor "pointing to" (ishára), which can make it known (`an ma`rifa). "The road is blocked, the search obstructed." Exalted is thy Lord, the Lord of Might, above what you attribute to Him.

[2] The second stage is the indication (dalíl, also "proof") of this first Lordship and its sign. That is, the eye which is directed by it to it. This stage is the knowledge of the first stage through an indication, because this Lordship is the face (wajh) of the first Lordship. The knowledge of the face is the same as the knowledge of the owner of the face. "O my God! It is through You that I recognize you as you have directed me to You and summoned me to you. Were it not for You I would not know what you are." This stage points to the Essence by means of the Essence, while there is as yet no mention of the objects of Lordship in the court of divine Might. There is neither mention, nor practicality (sulúh), nor comprehension (iháta) nor manifestation (zuhúr). Nay, rather in the reality this stage of Lordship is the same as the first. There is no name or allusion which can approach Him. Exalted is the Ancient above the description of all but Him. He is isolated from His creation and His creation is isolated from Him. The only knowledge which He indicated is the knowledge of His signs. Exalted is He. He is too glorious to be described.

[3] The third stage of Lordship is the Lordship of the Will (mashíya). This is the Lordship which exists when an "object" of Lordship (marbúb: the one over whom lordship is excercised) is mentioned but not seen or comprehended. This is the station (maqám) of the divine Ipseity (huwíya), and the highest grade of the Inclusive Unity.

[4] The fourth is the Lordship of the divine Purpose (iráda). This is the Lordship which exists when the marbúb is mentioned and seen generally (ijmálí), even if there is no marbúb through actual connection (bi'l-ta`alluq), either by manifestion (bi-zuhúr) or comprehension.

[5] The fifth level of Lordship is that of the greatest name of God (ism alláh al-akbar). This is the Lordship which exists when the marbúb is mentioned and seen specifically (tafsílí), even if there is no marbúb by connection, manifestation or comprehesion.

[6] The sixth is the Lordship of Mercy (rubúbíya ism al-rahmáníya) and it is the Lordship which exists when the marbúb is mentioned and seen through connection and comprehension, while there is yet marbúb through manifestation. This Lordship is the stage of being worshipped (ma`búdíya) indicated in the verse: Thee do we worship and Thee do we ask for help. [1:5].

[7] The seventh stage of Lordship exists when the marbúb is mentioned, seen, comprehended, and manifest. This is the Lordship which has been cast (al-rubúbíyat al-mulqátatu) in the ipseity (huwíya) of the marbúb. al-Sádiq alluded to this level in the following statement:

Servitude (`ubúdíya) is an essence whose kernel is Lordship. Whatever is lost in servitude is found in Lordship, and whatever is hidden in Lordship is attained in servitude."[548]

This Lordhip exists in both the hidden dimension and the visible dimension of all things (tilka al-rubúbíya mawjúdatun fí ghayb al-ashyá' wa shahádatihá). This is what is meant by the phrase: guidance from their Lord. That is to say, the Lordship which has been cast into their ipseities (huwíyátihim) God guides them by this Lordship to themselves through themselves. And God appointed `Alí in the station of His own self in all of these seven stages of Lordship for the magnification of the glories of His Lordship inasmuch as the eyes attain Him not [6:103], nor do the natural thoughts of men encompass Him, nor are the birds of the hearts and thoughts (awhám) able to ascend to the atmosphere of His Lordship. And He attains the eyes, He is the Subtle, the Apprised . [6:103]

This is merely a drop (rashha) concerning the guidance from their Lord.

The first three degrees of Lordship are mentioned again in the commentary on 2:30, where they are identified with God, Muhammad and `Alí respectively.[549]

[1] The Lordship which exists [even] when there is none over which to be a Lord (lá marbúb). And it is the sign of the Lord and the highest aspect of the Will (mashíya). The road to it is cut off, and the path to it is blocked. God was Lord even when there was no object of lordship.

[2] The Lordship which exists when no marbúb is seen, even though the marbúb is mentioned. And this Lordship is the same as the Will. There is no road to it, except after the manner in which the Messenger of God has described, he said: "None but God and thee, O `Alí, knows me."

[3] And the Lordship which exists when the marbúb is both mentioned and seen. And it is the Lordship which exists through its connection with the marbúb and [the Lordship] implied in the statement: the Merciful mounted the throne . [550] It is the Lordship of the divine mercy and there is no path to it except by means of what Muhammad himself described, he said: "None but God and I know thee , O `Alí!"[551]

This hierarchy is relatively straightforward in indicating the three principles of tawhíd, nubúwa, and imáma, which may be associated respectively with the levels of Exclusive Unity (ahadíya), Inclusive Unity (wáhidíya), and Mercy (rahmáníya). In this context such a hierarchy implies the existence of the fourth element, namely the Shí`a itself. The Bab does not mention this last in connection with rubúbíya, possibly because the Shí`a represent the opposite but complementary principle of servitude (`ubúdíya) mentioned in the preceding heptad.

At 2:35 Adam, or more specifically the Adam which functions in the jannat al-úlá,[552] is identified as the divine Will, and is the first male (dhakar al-awwal) to appear in the pre-existent contingent world (al-imkán al-úlá) whose spouse is the divine Purpose (iráda).

And the Garden here is the garden of the Inclusive Unity, not the garden of the Exclusive Unity, because in the latter (ahadíya) there is no mention ofdrawing near to the tree, neither potentially nor actually. It is the garden of pre-eternity (azalíya). The enterer thereof never departs (yakhruju). And the abandoner thereof (khárij), never [re-]enters it.[553]

Nothing is opposed to its people,[554] and its people are not other than [that]. Its inhabitants have ever been in one condition (hála wáhida) which none recognizes through hints (bi'l-talwíh), except he who has burned the veils of glory and allusion and infinity and finitude and entered the Throne of glory so that he hears whatever he wants of the Merciful One from the melody of the peacocks of this garden. And He wrongs not His servants.[555] And this garden is reserved (makhsús) for the Family of Muhammad. And no one merits it until he has recognized them through illumination.[556]

It is the garden of eternity (al-khuld), God specified it for His self, and alluded to it in His book: God warns you that you beware of Him . . . [557] [3: 28 & 30]. And remind them of the Days of God . [14:5]

The Bab then says that this garden of the Adam al-úlá is at the level (lujjat) of the Exclusive Unity. When he became intimate with her mate, [558] which is the station of the individuation of the First Adam,[559] then their Lord caused them to dwell in the garden of the Inclusive Unity. This statement appears to describe three levels, of which the station of ta`ayyun is the middle. The Bab then says that the tree itself is the sign of the Exclusive Unity, which cannot be properly perceived within the realm of contingency and this is why Adam and Eve were ordered not to approach it. After they disobeyed, the first offspring to come forth into contingency was the Sea of Destiny (bahr al-qadar):

which is only understood by God the One, the Single. And it is a surging sea in whose waves God forms (sawwara alláh) all that is given existence by the Will. It is a Sea which has no beginning and no end. Glorified be God, its Originator, above what is said of Him.[560]

And verily al-Sádiq has said, when asked about the garden of Adam:

It was one of the gardens of the earth (al-dunyá). The sun rose over it, as did the moon. If it had been one of the gardens of the Hereafter, nothing would ever have come forth out of it.[561]

He means (lawwaha) by dunyá, the Tamtám of the Inclusive Unity (wáhidíya). And it is the beginning place of limits in the worlds of al-jabarút, from infinity to infinity. And the meaning of "rising of the sun and the moon" (tulú`) is the process (madad) of Origination and Invention. And by "Hereafter" is meant the depth of the Exclusive Unity of the sign of the pre-eternity which appears to it by it (la-há bi-há).[562]

In his commentary at verse 38, the Bab comments upon the phrase and whosoever follows My guidance, no fear shall be on them, neither shall they sorrow. Here my guidance is glossed as `Alí who may be followed in a variety of ways, according to the tradition "The paths [to God] are as numerous as the breaths of the creatures".[563]

[1] The first who followed `Alí in the contingent world is [by virtue of the word] huwa. It is his name and his designation, even without fully pronouncing the wáw.

[2] Then the manifest divinity (al-ulúhíya al-záhiríya).

[3] Then the victorial exclusive unity (al-ahadíya al-qáhiríya).

[4] Then the universal mercy (al-rahmáníya al-jámi`a).

[5] Then the second pre-eternity (al-azalíya al-tháníya).

[6] Then the world of attributes (sifát).

[7] Then the world of deeds (af`ál).

[8] Then the veil of divine power (qudra).

[9] Then the veil of divine might (`azama).

[10] Then the veil of might (`izza).

[11] Then the veil of awe (hayba).

[12] Then the veil of omnipotence (jabarút).

[13] Then the veil of mercy (rahma).

[14] Then the veil of prophecy (nubúwa).

[15] Then the veil of miracle (karáma)

[16] Then the veil of high rank (rif`a).

[17] Then the veil of felicity (sa`áda).

[18] Then the veil of intercession (shafá`a).

[19] Then the world of command (amr).

[20] Then the world of creation (khalq).

And all of thatfollows him in a continuous motion (bi-harakat al-tawálí). While he [`Alí] helps them (mumidduhum) with guidance according to what they are (bi-má hum `alayhi). Even the People of non-recognition (ahl al-inkár) follow him by virtue of that very non-recognition.[564] Thus God has caused the people of paradise to enter [paradise] by means of following him, and the people of hell [to enter] hell by means offollowing him.

The idea expressed in this last statement is one frequently encountered in the traditions. For example, in one of the khutab collected by Rajab Bursí we find this statement from `Alí: "I am the master of the Path and the Place, [and I am the one] who determines who goes to Paradise and who goes to Hell according to the command of my Lord."[565] This exaltation of `Alí by the Bab is in fact very similar to the theme of this khutba and several others, such as the Khutbat al-tatanjíya[566] and much of the terminology found here, and in the Bab's following remarks [567] is also found in these traditions. It is known that this compilation was studied by Sayyid Kázim [568] and it is likely, therefore, that it was studied by the Bab as well.

As for the hierarchy itself, the pattern seems to imply the number of the letters of the basmala (19), if the point under the bá' is counted separately. Here, it is necessary to refer to one of those passages in Masháriq which seems to have served as a source for the Bab. Rajab Bursí writes that all existent things (mawjúdát), find their consummation in a single point (al-nuqtat al-wáhida), and this point is a quality of the divine Essence.[569] This would correspond to the first element, huwa.

The remaining elements in the above list may be seen to reflect the continuing discussion by Bursí of the way in which the existent things acquire being. Bursí says that this divine attribute is the first thing that was created and is identifiable as the Muhammadan light, which is also called the first intelligence. It is also called the universal intelligence (`aql al-kull), which represents the origin of all things. When God spoke to this first principle His word became a light; then he spoke another word and it became a spirit (rúh). Ultimately, through this speaking, the "one" was diffused (sarayán) through the "many", as the alif is diffused through speech in general. In the course of this passage reference is made to such terms as al-wáhdáníya al-awwalíya (íya al-thániya), the "appearance of the deeds from the attributes" (sudúr al-af`ál `an al-sifát, cf. item 6 & 7), and the "clouds of divine might" (saháb al-`azama, cf. hijáb al-`azama, item 9).[570]

Although Bursí here indicates that the highest principle, the "single point" is the Muhammadan Presence, (al-hadra al-muhammadíya, a term from Ibn `Arabí's lexicon), the above remarks serve an introduction for a notoriously obscure khutba from `Alí, in which a dialogue between the divine and human dimensions of the Imám is presented. During this dialogue, statement is made: "I am the Essence of essences." Now this statement is reproduced (but not ascribed) by the Bab immediately after the list translated above.[571] A closer comparison between this section of the Bab's commentary and the material in Masháriq would undoubtedly further confirm the relationship between the two.

We conclude this chapter by giving the commentary at 2:125, which is important for the hierarchical exegetic theory of this tafsír. The commentary concentrates on the word House (al-bayt) for which are given nine inner meanings (butún), beginning with the ninth as the most profound.[572]

And when We appointed the House to be a place of visitation for the people, and a sanctuary, and: 'Take yourselves Abraham's station for a place of prayer.' And We made covenant with Abraham and Ishmael: 'Purify My House for those that shall go about it and those that cleave to it, to those who bow and prostrate themselves.' [2:125]

[9] The meaning (al-murád) ofthe House in the ninth depth (fi batn al-tási`) is the house of the divine Ipseity (al-huwíya). It is the house of tawhíd and the first house which God manifested to itself through itself in the process of Origination (al-ibdá`). He made it as a sign of His own self, the Ancient (al-qadím) as a proof of the statement: "There is no god but God, the Mighty (al-`azím).

[8] In the eighth depth, it is the house of divinity (al-ulúhíya) and it is the first house established in the Absolute Cloud as the possessor of whatever is rare and glorious (mustawlíyan `alá má daqqa wa jalla).

[7] In the seventh interior, it is the house of the Exclusive Unity belonging to God, the One the Single. It is the first house which God, his (Abraham's) Lord established with His hand for Muhammad in the world of al-láhút. In it [He is] in it; he is he; there is no other (wa fíhi fíhi huwa huwa lá siwá-hu).[573]

[6] In the sixth depth, it is the house of Destiny (al-qadar).This is the first house which was established in the world of al-jabarút by the hand of Muhammad for `Alí. And in it he is, and he is independent and the ordainer, by permission of the Merciful, of the divine economy (muqaddir al-taqdír) in the states of immortality and annihilation alike (fi'l-baqá' wa'l-faná') for all who are in these worlds. He [?it] is the throne of God (`arsh al-haqq) which is mentioned in the verse the All-compassionate sat himself upon the Throne [20:5].

[5] In the fifth depth, it is the house of divine change of plan (al-badá').

[4] In the fourth depth, it is the battleground where Husayn fell (masra` al-Husayn).

[3] In the third depth, it is the tomb of the Messenger.

[2] In the second depth, it is the tombs of the Shí`a of the Imáms.

[1] And in the first interior it is what the Merciful said: The first House established for the people was that at the blessed and holy Bakka a place holy, and a guidance to all beings. [3:96][574]

And the tafsír of this noble verse for the People of Reality (the Imáms) is itself all according to one station.[575]

The function of the ninth "depth" is the same as that of the world of láhút shown above, namely to emphasize the rigorous negative or apophatic theology so central to Shaykhí, Bábí and eventually Bahá'í thought. It is on account of such a theology that the Imám is permitted to make all of the various theopathic statements recorded in tradition.[576]

Although the point has been alluded to several times, it should be stated clearly that apart from quoting several hadíths which were favorite subjects of meditation for the first two masters of the Shaykhí school, and apart from the repeatedly affirmed doctrine of the four supports (which includes the anonymity of a spiritual elite) and the affirmation of the existence of a God which is beyond Being, the Bab shows no interest in what might be termed the higher teachings of the Shaykhíya. That is, he does not elaborate any of the theosophical and metaphysical themes, such as those pertaining to the `alam al-mithál, or alchemy for which the Shaykhís are known. In addition, there is a strong element of "aphoristic" Sufism in these hierarchies which, one assumes, came as naturally to a spiritually-minded Shírází as his own heartbeat. There is no mention in the histories of any direct affiliation of the Bab with a Sufi order or teacher.

Part i: Chapter 4



The foregoing discussions of waláya and hierarchies have outlined in some detail the form of the thought expressed in this commentary on the second súra of the Qur'an. However, without some understanding of the many references in this commentary to the process of God's self-manifestation, tajallí, this form would remain spiritless. The most usual translation of this term is "manifestation". The active participle is mutajallí, "the one who manifests or causes to become manifest". The passive participle mutajallá, "that which is manifested", can also mean "the place of manifestation". Mutajallá la-hu is "the one who receives manifestation". The root J L W is found in several forms in the Qur'an. For the purposes of this discussion, the most important occurs in the following context:

And when Moses came to Our appointed time and his Lord spoke with him, he said, 'Oh my Lord, show me, that I may behold Thee!' Said He, "Thou shalt not see Me; but behold the mountain - if it stays fast in its place, then Thou shalt see Me.'

And when his Lord revealed Himself to the mountain (fa-lammá tajalla rabbuhu li-'l-jabal)He made it crumble to dust; and Moses fell down swooning.

So when he awoke, he said, 'Glory be to Thee! I repent to Thee; I am the first of the believers.' [7:143][577]

The above terms parallel other words deriving from the root Z H R which are used in slightly differing ways. Mazhar is the noun of place meaning "the location where something appears or is made to appear". In the context of this commentary, it frequently refers to a human being, and therefore a blurring of actual agency may become a problem. Strictly speaking the mazhar must never be thought of as actually being the cause of a given "appearance" (muzhir) but merely the vehicle by means of which such appears.[578] Zuhúr is a very important term which carries all of the above meanings of appearance and manifestation in addition to "victory" and "overcoming".[579] It is the term most frequently used in even the oldest hadith literature to refer to the eventual parousia of the 12th Imám.


As a word not only approved but sanctified by scripture, tajallí came to be used by thinkers very early in the history of Muslim thought as a technical term to convey the neo-platonic idea of the self-manifestation of the One, who for Muslims was God (alláh). One of the earlier philosophers to employ it was Ibn Sina (428/1037).[580] but it was really Ibn `Arabí (638/1240) who discussed the process in what was to become its classical formulation,[581] This in turn was adopted not only by Sunní mystics but also virtually wholesale by many of his Shí`í readers, such as the very influential Haydar Ámulí (after 787/1385-6) and Ibn Abí Jumhúr (after 905/1499),[582] and transmitted directly to such representatives of the great Safaví intellectual synthesis as Mullá Sadrá (1050/1640) and Muhsin Fayz Kashání (1091/1680). The main features of Ibn `Arabí's theory of the self-manifestation of God would appear to have been subscribed to by Shaykh Ahmad al-Ahsá'i (1242/1826) and his successor Sayyid Kázim Rashtí (1259/1843); but as will become clear, there is an important divergence between the Shaykhí position and that put forth by Ibn `Arabí. In any event, the tajallí which is at work in the Bab's tafsir shares many features in common with the classical notion.[583]

It is neither advisable nor possible to list all of the contexts in this tafsír where reference is made to the process of tajallí; indeed, there is hardly a page which does not allude to it in some way or another. Tajallí and waláya are the ideational anchors for the tafsír. The first mention outside the "Introduction"[584] is in the commentary on the Fátiha.

[1] The third [verse] is the book of Fátima.

[2] God has placed in it all that pertains to her.

[3] It is the Garden of Grace (al-na`ím).

[4] God prepared its shade for whoever believes in her and loves her after he has recognised her as she deserves.

[5] [That is, in the way] she appeared to the one who recognizes her through her.

[6] At such time [when he recognizes her properly] this Garden will open to him.

[2] = kullu má la-há wa `alayhá

[4] = bi-má hiya ahlu-há

[5] = ka-má tajallat li'l-`árif la-há bi-há.[585]

The problem then is how does one understand the statement ka-má tajallat li'l-`árif la-há bi-há. The most venerable usage of this kind of expression, at least for the Shí`a, occurs in a statement attributed to `Alí and quoted by many writers, a transliteration of which runs as follows:

qála `Alí: lá tuhitu bi-hi al-awhámu bal tajalla la-há bi-há wa bi-há umtuni`a min-há [586]

This report undoubtedly serves as the locus classicus for the ideas represented by the above quotation from the Bab's tafsír. In fact, he comments on it himself a little later in the work.[587] Shaykh Ahmad quotes it in the course of his fourfold commentary on the hadíth: "Our cause is a secret, a secret within a secret". This statement is connected with the first station (maqám), the affirmation of divine unity, and the knowledge of the Ancient God who is described in the Qur'an by the verse: The eyes attain Him not, but He attains the eyes; He is the All-subtle, the All-aware. [6:103] Shaykh Ahmad says that there are several hadíths which explain this station, the first of which is the one quoted above. With this background, it is possible to translate this statement of `Alí's in the following way:

`Alí said: "Mere minds do not comprehend Him. Rather, He appears to them by means of them, and it is by means of them also that He remains inaccessible to them."

With this translation, however, the problem of the proper understanding of the plural awhám is introduced. In the vast majority of its usages, it carries a negative connotation along the lines of delusion, fancy, and erroneous, perhaps wrong-headed, conjecture. Much of this negativity must be seen in this context, to have been neutralized by the stated relationship to the Divine: It is God who appears to the thoughts after all, therefore how can these thoughts be said to be unworthy?[588] A solution to this problem may be to read the sentence as follows:

Rather, He appears to their minds insofar as such insufficient instruments are capable of properly perceiving.[589]

While this statement could be interpreted pessimistically, it should be pointed out that the intellectual tradition in which it serves as a focus of meditation has often responded to the basic idea rather differently. Ibn `Arabí, for example, would say that God appears to the human mind only in the form of that mind, precisely because He has no form Himself.[590] The many appearances in these limited forms are His only appearance. The manifestation (tajallí) of attributes, is the manifestation of essence. Thus, the thought (wahm) may be seen as the highest form of God's manifestation. However, because of the inherent ambivalence of the equation, a certain amount of caution or vigilance, is in order to avoid what Corbin has termed "metaphysical idolatry."[591]

To return to the words of the Bab, the most important sentence is number five where the actual verb tajallat is used together with a prepositional phrase frequently encountered throughout the work, either in the form it appears here or in combination with other pronouns. The variations in the manuscripts deserve some further notice. The reading in Baq. and I: ka-má tajallat li'l-`árif la-hu bi-hi (not taking into account the extra bi-hi in Baq.) could be translated: "As she appeared to the one who recognized 'all that pertains to her' [or possibly even God] by means of his (al-`árif) own self, [or his own capacity for recognition]." It may be that the masculine pronoun refers to "book" thus giving: "As she appeared to the one who recognized that this verse is the book of Fátima by means of the book/verse [or by means of his capacity to understand the book]." Although in this last attempt, one would rather have seen al-`árif la-hu bi-há: "the one who recognized that this verse is the book by means of the verse (áya) [or, through the meditation on the verse which produced a vision of Fátima through which 'she appeared to the knower']." It is possible that the variation in the readings derives from an autograph which carried the statement in this form. Another possible reading, in the light of the above hadíth from `Alí (and the confusion among the manuscripts), is al-`árif la-há bi-hi: "As she appeared to the one who recognized her through his own self [viz, his own capacity]." But this reading is not contained in any of the manuscripts consulted. From the way similar formulations are used throughout the work, and from our translation of the above-quoted hadith from `Alí, it seems advisable to adopt this last possibility.

As mentioned, that tradition appears at the very beginning of the Bab's commentary, in his description of the eight gardens.[592] The Bab, in his description of the eighth or highest Garden (that one which is isolated from all other Gardens, and from which all other Gardens are isolated) - quotes a portion of the hadíth, leaving no doubt that it is the inspiration behind the above usage.

The Bab says:

It is the Garden of Tawhíd and the Form (shabah) of Tafríd to which nothing at all is either connected to or is like. It is as in the statement of `Alí: "He has appeared to them by means of them (tajalla la-há bi-há)."[593] And the one who causes to appear (i.e. God, "al-mutajallí bi-'l-kasri") is the same as the process of appearing (nafs al-tajallí). And it is [also] the thing which is caused to appear [or, the place where it appears] (al-mutajallá bi-'l-fathi). And the pre-eternity of His self is the same as His self.[594] It is not comparable with anything, and there is no knowledge from it directly (lá ma`rifat`an janábi-hi), neither by inspired intuition (kasfh) nor by discursive proof (istidlál),[595] because whatever is other than Him is non-existent (ma`dúm) by comparison with Him (`inda-hu). "And He is God.[596] He was and nothing was with Him. He is now as He was."[597] So how can He be known by one who does not exist? Although He is known, insofar as such is possible, in the contingent world. There is no distinction in this knowledge except that they [598] are His servants and His creation. He is known by means of signs, and is witnessed by means of tokens. This knowledge is the proper understanding of the transcendence (tanzíh) of the Living, the Ancient. At the level of contingency nothing else is possible.[599]

The phrase: "[a] He was and nothing was with Him. [b]He is now as He was." is often repeated in this tafsír and therefore deserves some comment. It is composed of two elements: [a] a had^th, and [b] a response to the had^th. This second element might also be translated as "it is now as it was" referring to the state of affairs, as opposed to the "person" described in [a]. This first element is attributed to the Prophet who is reported to have addressed it to `Alí when he descended to earth after the mi`ráj.[600] The verb kána, we are told, should not be understood as imputing a past tense to God ("l'�(tm)tre"). The response [b] is attributed to Junayd (298/910).[601]

The prolific Bahá'í scholar, `Abd al-Hamíd Ishráq-Khávarí has studied this maxim together with several variants, in his commentary on Bahá'u'lláh's Kitáb-i Iqán.[602] He says that the statement [a] comes from the Imáms through various versions. Ishráq-Khávarí cites those variants which appear in Káfí and adds that they are used by the `urafá' and Sufis to speak about the first stage (ahadíyat) of the process of God's self-manifestation (tajallí), as distinct from the second stage (wáhidíyat), which involves quiddities and "permanent archetypes". It is in this discussion of the stages of manifestation that the phrase often appears. Furthermore, such discussions which classically involved three stages of tajallí, are stimulated by the famous doctrine of wahdat al-wujúd associated with the name of Ibn `Arabí. The Persian interpreter of Ibn `Arabí, `Abd al-Razzáq Káshání (poss. 736/1336) cites element [a] in his analysis[603] of tajallí, a discussion which might be thought to tacitly evoke in the mind of his reader the response attributed to Junayd. This aspect of Ibn `Arab^'s influence on Persian Sufism has been discussed in detail;[604] it may be thought, therefore, that most references to a multi-stage process of tajallí, including this one by Ishráq-Khávarí, derive from this influence. References by Ishráq-Khávarí in this passage to Junayd and Muhsin Fayz, indicate that this contemporary scholar acknowledged the importance of the greater Islamic mystical tradition. His reference to the long commentary by `Abd al-Bahá (successor to Bahá'u'lláh, d.1921) on the kuntu kanzan makhfíyan hadíth, where `Abd al-Bahá' cites the lam yakun ma`a-hu shay'un tradition to also speak about the first stage of tajallí, indicates that Ishráq-Khávarí acknowledged the relationship of this tradition with the Bahá'í revelation.[605] As a matter of interest, Ishráq-Khávarí's comments are tied to the following passage in the Kitáb-i Iqán:

To every discerning and illumined heart it is evident that God, the unknowable Essence, the divine Being, is immensely exalted beyond every human attribute, such as corporeal existence, ascent, descent, egress and regress. Far be it from His glory that human tongue should adequately recount His praise, or that human heart comprehend His fathomless mystery. He is and hath ever been veiled in the ancient eternity of His Essence, and will remain in His Reality everlastingly hidden from the sight of men. "No vision taketh in Him, but He taketh in all vision; he is the Subtile, the All-Perceiving." [6:103] No tie of direct intercourse can possibly bind Him to His creatures. He standeth exalted beyond and above all separation and union, all proximity and remoteness. No sign can indicate His presence or His absence; inasmuch as by a word of His command all that are in heaven and on earth have come to exist, and by His wish, which is the Primal Will itself, all have stepped out of utter nothingness into the realm of being, the world of the visible.

Gracious God! How could there be conceived any relationship or possible connection between His Word and they that are created of it? The verse: "God would have you beware of Himself" [3:28] unmistakably beareth witness to the reality of Our argument, and the words: "God was alone; there was none else beside Him" are a sure testimony to its truth. All the Prophets of God and their chosen Ones, all the divines, the sages, and the wise of every generation, unanimously recognize their inability to attain unto the comprehension of that Quintessence of all truth, and confess their incapacity to grasp Him, Who is the inmost Reality of all things (jawhar al-jawáhir).[606]

To return to our author, the Bab never tires of asserting the reality of this God who is utterly unknowable. And it should be remembered that this apophatic theology is considered by him, as well as the Shaykhíya in general, as being a true reflection of the pristine teachings of the Imáms, as opposed to being the result of "secular" theological speculation. A prime example of this is the following hadíth:

`Alí, in the Khutba al-Yatímíya,[607] said: {"If you say: 'Of what is He?' He has already transcended all created things (fa-qad tabáyana al-ashyá' kulla-há.). And if you say: 'He is He.',[608] the há' and the waw are from His speech,} [which is only] an attribute which indicates Him, not an attribute which reveals Him. And if you say: 'He has a limit', the limit is automatically other than He. And if you say: 'He is like the air.', the air itself is his creation (san`). And the whole discussion goes from attribute to attribute. Blindness of heart is from [faulty] understanding (fahm). And [faulty] understanding is the result of [insufficient] awareness (idrák). [Insufficient] awareness is from [lack of] discovery (istinbát). While the kingdom perdures in the kingdom and a created thing terminates in its like. And [from the beginning] the quest is committed to end in that which resembles [the seeker, or his faculties]. To barge ahead in such a search ends only in futility. So the explanation is lost. And the struggle is in vain. And the communication is cut off. And the path is blocked. And the quest is barred. His proofs are His signs, and His existence (wujúd) is His own corroboration (ithbátu-hu).

The Bab concludes:

Thus it is [only] apparent wujúd [which is known] to the contingent world, while that existence of His which is His self [viz] "none but Him knows It, Exalted be He," - none knows how It is except Him.[609]

The title of the khutba appears to refer to the uniqueness of God, or divine yatímíya. Although it has not been possible to trace a printed version of the hadíth, standard Shí`í literature abounds with similar statements.[610] Of particular interest is the existence of a virtual duplicate of this statement as a doctrine (`aqída) of classical Sufism ascribed to Halláj (309/922).[611] God thus being unalterably removed (Deus absconditus), the problem arises when we seek to know more about what precisely is being manifested when one speaks of His self-manifestation. A clue is offered in the folowing reprise from the hierarchical dimensions of hidáya [612] which follows this hadíth. Describing the lowest level the Bab says:

And to each thing [guidance ] is given according to its state (bi-má huwa `alay-hi). And all of the above is his (`Alí's) manifestation to everything other than he by means of everything other than he (tajallí-hi li-má siwá-hu bi-má siwá-hu). And in the power of his own greatness (fí `izz janábihi] he is a leader (hádin) and not one who is led (mahdí). "He is now as He was." And His guidance is the same as the godfearing .[613]

Further clarification of the problem is found in the Bab's comments on the frequent quranic word nafs. Assuming that the pronouns in the phrase la-hu bi-hi refer, in some way, to the spiritual dimension of the subject/object of divine self-manifestation, it is important that we have some idea of the way the soul is discussed in this commentary. Before looking at this material, it will be useful to have some knowledge of the basic presuppositions the Bab is likely to have had on this matter.

One of the most frequently cited quranic verses, in the Bab's commentary (particularly towards the end of the work), and one which is alluded to in countless other passages, is the first half of 41:53.[614] Some of these citations will be encountered in the following quotations from the Tafsír. The verse itself, like the Light Verse (24:35), or the Throne Verse (2:255), is of course widely quoted by Muslim authors in general, and has like many verses of the Qur'an, occasioned a wide variety of interpretations. The verse is translated by Arberry as follows:

We shall show them Our signs in the horizons (al-afáq)and in themselves (anfusihim), till it is clear to them that it is the truth (al-haqq).

The background for the way in which the Bab read "soul", may be seen to be provided in a commentary on this verse by Shaykh Ahmad. He says that anfus must be considered under two aspects. The first is that it means Muhammad and his family, according to the statement in the Qur'an: Now there has come to you a Messenger from among yourselves . . . [9:128].

"That is to say (ay) 'There has come to you a Messenger from the family of Muhammad because they are the souls of mankind (anfus al-khalq) and their essences (dhawát), which is to say they are the souls of the souls (anfus al-nufús) and the essences of essences (dhawát al-dhawát). The point here is that mankind (al-khalq) knows God through them because they are the greatest signs (al-áyát al-kubrá, cf. e.g. 20:23). `Alí said: ' God has no greater sign than me and no greater (a`zam) announcement (nabá', cf. 78:2) than me.'[615] This is also corroborated by the verse: Indeed, he saw one of the greatest signs of his Lord. [53:18] [616]

According to Shaykh Ahmad, the verse means that Muhammad saw `Alí as that one who 'God has no greater sign than' during the night of the mi`ráj. And at the place (viz, sidrat al-muntahá, "the tree beyond which there is no passing") to which Muhammad attained, he saw `Alí before him and God spoke to him with his [`Alí's] tongue. "This is the highest meaning of the verse. As for the hadíth (viz, man `arafa nafsahu, discussed earlier by Shaykh Ahmad) it then means: 'He who knows them [the Imáms] knows God.'" In another work, Shaykh Ahmad directly addresses the usage la-ná bi-ná in explaining this tradition:

That is, each soul is an indication of his Lord (dalíl rabbihi) and His sign because he is a vestige of His act (athar fi`lihi). So whoever knows it, namely that attribute (dhálika 'l-wasf) knows that to which the attribute pertains (al-mawsúf). This is clear. Previously, I said: "We are that attribute which is real in us, through us and which is therefore known by us through [knowing] ourselves."[617] Now I say: "That is, our souls, namely our essences (dhawátuná) are most certainly that attribute because when God desired us to know Him He created us in the form of His knowledge.[618]

The second aspect of the verse, we are told, is that "souls" means directly the souls of mankind (anfus al-khalq), that is to say: We will show them Our signs, namely the signs of Our knowledge (ma`rifatiná) in their souls. Here Shaykh Ahmad refers to a point he made earlier where he used the examples of two mirrors: the first receives the image of, say, a face and the second receives the image of that face as reflected from the first mirror. The image in the second mirror necessarily distorts the image from the first mirror. The image in the first mirror is therefore more accurate, but this does not negate the value of the second mirror as long as it is acknowledged to be less reliable than the first. "After you have known your self you know that God describes Himself to you through the Imáms (fí-him wa bi-him). And He means for them to be known because knowledge of them is true knowledge of God."[619]

While both aspects of the verse lead ultimately to the same conclusion, it is important to bear in mind the noetic function described in the second aspect, inasmuch as both work together. In what is probably the oldest work of the Bab's to have survived, the Risálat al-sulúk, we find a clear endorsement of the second half of Shaykh Ahmad's commentary. Included is an additional statement which pertains to the doctrine of the Fourth Support, identified as the Shí`a, which seems to correspond to Shaykh Ahmad's second mirror. The Bab opens the risála by suggesting that proper quest is dependent upon devotion to the principle of tawhíd. Although "the paths to God are as numerous as the souls themselves, there is, in reality, only one soul and one religion which is the same as the "command/cause of God" (wa má amruná illá wáhidatun, Q. 54:50). But, the Bab, continues:

This religion is supported (mutaqawwam) by four supports (arkán arb`a): affirmation of divine unity, prophecy, waláya, and the Shí`a. They are four gates of which the first is useless without the last [e.g., all are equally important]. Altogether they amount to the Face of God which will never pass away [cf. Q 28:88], [a face] which is [ultimately] the love of the Family of God, which is the same as the love of God, and it is the "hidden treasure". The Prophet alluded to this station with a hint, when he said: "Above every good deed (hasana) is another good deed until one loves us. When one loves us there is no other good deed higher." Thus al-hubb, al-habíb, al-muhibb, and al-mahbúb are four [separate] signs from the radiance of the Family of God which are within you, and they are your very soul.[620]

The following examples from the tafsír further show the similarity of the Bab's thought with Shaykh Ahmad's. At verse 9 the Bab takes the opportunity to analyze the problem under the term nafs "self/soul".

They would trick God and the believers, but only themselves they deceive, yet they are not aware. [2:9] [621]

After discussing the ways in which this verse relates to the waláya of `Alí, and those who were unfaithful to it because of their "regarding themselves" and "taking undue account of multiplicity [as opposed to unity]", the Bab says:

This verse has also an absolute meaning (ma`ná haqíqí) which I will mention in order that the people not err. Namely, God put a sign of His self (nafsi-hi) in the realities of all created things (fí haqá'iqi 'l-ashyá'), that they might know Him thereby. This sign is generated and created (hádithatun makhlúqatun), but no thing resembles it, because He [Himself] is a thing which not even a sign of God, the Truth, resembles, in that Like him there is naught. [42:11] and No god is there but Him, exalted be He above the action of the polytheists.[622]

With this statement the Bab brings up several themes which recur frequently in his tafsír. First, is the very important hermeneutic principle of multiple meanings: any given verse may, and usually does, carry numerous intentions (precisely: ma`ání) which operate simultaneously with equal force, presumably at every verse. This principle is invoked here by the Bab's reference to "absolute meaning" as opposed to the other possible ones. Second, the doctrine of signs expressed here is a virtual axiom of Muslim spiritual philosophy. But in this commentary, the greatest sign is the Imám. Thirdly, the adjective hádithatun used here, appears exactly the same way in the writings of Shaykh Ahmad, who is concerned that the mere sign of God run no risk of being confused with the Absolute.[623] Thus the "spark of the divine" which the mystics say is in men, should not (according to Shaykh Ahmad and the Bab) really be described as such. This then is another example of the by now familiar stark apophaticism which characterizes this tafsír. It is perhaps unneccesary to add (or repeat) that in the context of this theology, there can be no question of divine incarnation.

The Bab continues:[624]

`Alí said: "Each thing upon which the name [of being] a "thing" has been put is ipso facto created, with the exception of God." Therefore this sign is the soul (nafs) of that thing [which bears a name]. Its reality (haqíqa) is from its Lord, and it is its eye (tarf, also may be translated as "aspect") by which [that thing] looks to God [as in the exhortation] "Know ye God through God!" [625] The Messenger of God said: "The one who knows himself best from among you is the one who knows best his Lord." `Alí said: "He who knows himself knows his Lord." [626] And in the Gospel God said: "Know your self that you might know your Lord. Your exterior (záhir) is destined for extinction, and your interior (bátin) is Myself." [627]

He who knows God by way of this soul which is in him, has certainly known God.[628] And there is no other way than this for the servants. Moreover, there is no distinction in the knowledge (ma`rifa) except that he [or it] is His servant and His creation. He who knows Him as God knows, exalted be He,[629] has really known Him. But he who has known Him by an attribute of the contingent things (bi-sifat al-mumkinát) has not known Him. And he [the one one who has known God properly] is the sign of tawhíd, and the facsimile (shabah) of divine aloneness (tafríd) and the highest possible object of knowledge for man (gháyatu haqqi 'l-mumkin) by means of the gift of the Ancient One.[630]

It is clear that here the sign/soul (áyat/nafs) is the Imám, and probably `Alí, rather than the comparatively accidental identity of the individual believer. The Bab continues:

But those who know God and knowonly their own selves, they are those who would trick God . . . and only themselves they deceive. "And in each thing of His is a sign which points out that He is one."[631] And this sign is the mirror of God in all things. They behold in it the beauty (jamál) of God, that is (ay) whatever He manifested to them by means of them. And it (the sign) is their own selves.[632]

Even though the tools (al-adawát) point [only] to themselves,[633] nevertheless he knows who knows our word. And none knows it except he who takes our provisions and travels with us.[634] `Alí said: "Pierce the veils of glory without any pointing."[635]

This refers to those servants who see the Face of the Lord,[636] and no thing is closer to it and its reality than this, in the estimation of God, exalted be He. Indeed, God sees Himself by means of the servant, and also manifests Himself to him and takes account of him by means of him, exalted be He beyond the reach of the contemplation of anyone of his creatures.[637]

The Imám has said: "Everything which you have distinguished by means of your minds (awhám) in attempting to sort out its subtle meanings (ma`ání), the same is created, just like you yourselves are; it returns upon yourselves. Nothing is permitted to go beyond its own principle (mabda'). Contingency ascends only to contingency. There is no way to the Pure Pre-eternal by any means (bi-wajh min al-wujúh) because whatever is other than He is pure non-existence, in comparison to Him (`inda janábi-hi)."[638] "He is now as He was." The master of all existing things [?Muhammad] said:[639] "We do not know Thee as befits Thee."[640]

Verily God has accepted this inability (`ajz) of His servants to know His Self,[641] because anything else is not possible in contingency. The Imám said: "There is no way except the way of knowledge of us (ma`rifataná)." This is the meaning (ma`ná) of lá ilaha illá 'lláh.

That soul is the the same as this word (kalima, i.e., lá iláha illá 'lláh); it [the soul or the word] is generated and created, yet pointing to God by affirming the divine unity. And this is apparent to the People of Heart (ahl al-fu'ád) because God has sent it down by the pen upon the tablet of truth thus.[642]

There follows a long section which returns to the discussion of the unfaithfulness of the first three caliphs to the waláya of `Alí. The Bab closes his commentary on this verse by discussing the phrase yet they know not (wa lá yash`urúna).

Because true awareness (al-shu`úr al-haqíqí) is that which concerns the sign of tawhíd (i.e., the Imám), and its place (mahallu-hu) is the fu'ád. It is the highest perceptive faculty of man (wa huwa a`lá mashá`ir al-insán). And when those disbelieversthought to deceive concerning [the matter of] `Alí, the sign of the tawhíd of God, their awareness vanished (rafa`at shu`úruhum) and God exchanged theirawarenes for non-recognition (inkár). And they will never have awareness because [ultimately] awareness is an attribute of believers.

The Imám said: "Fear the perspicacity (firása) of the believer for he sees by means of the light of God." [643] And it is the light of God which He created him from, while the disbeliever sees by means himself, and is created from it.

Thus (the unbeliever) has no awareness. The believer recognizes

the zuhúr by means of the light of God, the Forgiver.[644]

Although the soul has within it an a priori capacity, recognition of God is impossible without the Imám. This is of course the orthodox view of Shí`ism. The many references to Sufi literature point to both the similarity and difference between the two traditions on the problem of the knowledge of God. In classical Sufism, the role of spiritual guide is assigned to the Shaykh/Pír/Murshid. In Shí`ism, the guide can only be from among the Family of God. Shaykhism, however, took great pains to locate the Imám in a realm accessible through the individual soul (i.e., `álam al-mithál, Húrqalyá), obviating the necessity for the historical presence of either Shaykh or Imám.[645] We are told by the Shaykhís that in the nature of things only a few of the Shí`a will achieve the spiritual presence of the Imám. The Bab also holds that the Imám, as the principle of one of the four supports of religion (i.e., waláya), finds his proper home in the soul of the believer. However, he makes no explicit mention of the imaginal worlds of the Shaykhís. It is therefore important to examine in more detail the Bab's notion of soul as it appears in this commentary.

Thus far in this discussion of tajallí, we have seen that the nafs is the conduit for its transmission. We have also seen that the nafs of the Prophet and the Imáms, appears to be on a different level than its counterpart in the common believer. Moreover, we have seen briefly that the intellect, as it is presented in hadíths such as man `arafa nafsahu, appears to have less importance as a means of manifestation, but is still a major factor in individual spirituality.

Just as the nafs may be seen in a positive light, it is also seen in a negative one. Thus at 2:14 their Satans are glossed as anfusi-kum.[646] At 2:44 the Bab says that those who have forgotten themselves are those who live in the Inclusive Unity (wáhidíya, here a term for false waláya) even though God taught them that "the Truth is with `Alí".[647] `Alí is again referred to as the sign of the nafs of God, and even though it is created (makhlúq), there is no distinction between it and the One who raised it up (munshi'-há).[648]

At 2:45 the term inníya is used as descriptive of that which must be completely effaced in order that the servant become a mazhar of the Inclusive Unity, here apparently positive, and become truly humble. [649] The term itself requires some comment, inasmuch as the contexts in which it appears suggest that the proper term would be anáníya ("ego"), read here as aníya.[650] However, the Leiden manuscript, which provides vowel marks, consistently gives the word as inníya. The term aníya, sometimes seen as anáníya, is a standard one for "ego",[651] while inníya "quoddity" is a technical philosophical term translated by Izutsu as "is-ness", as in the phrase: al-haqq ta`ála inníyatun sirfatun.[652] It may be that this philosophical usage overlaps with the purely spiritual or psychological usage intended here.[653] This could be seen as a natural result of the general effort in Shaykhism, and indeed hikmat iláhí philosophy in general, to reconcile "reason and revelation." Corbin translates it as "heccéité" and adds the following note:

Le terme arabe anníya (sic) a posé plus d'un problème aux chercheurs en philosophie islamique. Versons au dossier du problème cette definition qu'en donne Shaykh Ahmad Ahsá'í . . .: "La anníya de la chose, c'est sa réalité quand on considère cette chose comme positive et vraie."[654]

Furthermore, there is no agreement on the proper vowelling of this term, anníya being preferred by some[655] and inníya being preferred by others.[656] Regarding anníya, Goichon confidently states: "Ne pas confondre avec 'inníya, l'abstrait tiré de la conjonction si et qui indique la ´conditionalité�(tm) d'un jugement."[657] In the Bab's tafsír the word certainly indicates conditionality, but it is an ontological conditionality, rather than the grammatical one asserted by Goichon. And however much grammar and Being might be otherwise interrelated, it seems clear that for our purposes Goichon is completely wrong.

If the scribe of the Leiden manuscript writes inníya, it is possibly due to his own philosophical preoccupations. The lack of vowel marks in the other manuscripts do not allow this to be stated categorically, but a comparison of the relevant passages indicates that one is left with the choice of reading aníya, anníya, or inníya. None of the manuscripts use the quite unambiguous term anáníya.

Even with all of these distinctions and disagreements, it may be possible to read aníya and inníya as being in some way synonymous. If the latter stands for quoddity, or thatness, it may be thought to refer to the individual identity insofar as it is at some distance from God. Inníya/anníya has also been termed the opposite of huwíya,[658] and translated as "essence and individuality".[659] Therefore, it might be thought to refer to that quoddity which is eventually annihilated (i.e., the ego), as the Bab has indicated with the word mahw (see above). Even if the term is taken in its broad, abstract meaning as Izutsu's "is-ness", if applied to anyone other than God, it would be contingent (imkání) "is-ness" that would be intended by the Bab. In the cause of consistency, however much the choice may ultimately have been a mistake, the term inníya in the following discussion will be translated as "ego", the traditional Sufi meaning.

The term occurs again at 2:34, in the course of a very long commentary[660] on the important idea of Iblís and his refusal to bow before Adam. The Bab makes the following comments.

God has placed the manifestations (mazáhir) of His kingdom in all things. To manifest knowledge (`ilm) he has appointed Adam as the agency of the active lordship (al-rubúbíyat al-maqbúlíyat), and the Iblís (sic: al-Iblís) has been appointed as the agency of polytheistic ego (al-inníyat al-mushrika) throughout all the worlds. . . . And the believers are the victorious angels, in them is the aspect of lordship while the aspect of al-inníya is absent from them.

The Messenger of God said: "Each soul has a satan." It was said [to him], "Even you, O Messenger of God." He said: "Yes, but it has submitted to me (bi-yadí)." [661]

Following this hadith there is a long lyrical disquisition on the praiseworthy qualities of the believer.[662] At 2:35, in which Adam and his wife are forbidden to approach theTree, the following comment is made:

That is the Muhammadan Tree in which the sign of the Exclusive Unity appears. And it is the highest aspect of the Will. Adam al-úlá and her mate [663]approached it through knowldege (`ilman), not deed (lá `amalan), and thus became wrongdoers.

And the meaning (murád) of their drawing nigh, is the property of contingency which is the agency of ego that was in them.[664] Thus their drawing nigh was [the act of] considering the contingent world (bi'l-khutúr al-imkání)[665] after God had taught them that the Tree of Ego which grows out of the earth has no stability (qarár, cf. Q.14:26) [and to] not draw nigh unto it with even a single glance (bi-nazar al-istiqlál: poss. "independently" of Muhammad) toward it. Because the signs of tawhíd are the signs of Muhammad which God manifested to him by means of him (la-hu bi-hi).

Then they drew nigh this Tree by a false oath of the ego (bi-qasam kadhb al-inníya), knowing that it was possible [to draw near within the limits of] contingency.

So they became wrongdoers. This wrong is that which God related to them and is by relationship to their drawing nigh to the Originator of Origination (mubdi` al-ibdá`, viz, Muhammad, as in the "Muhammadan Tree"). In all other cases this wrong refers to the impious approach to the depth of the Exclusive Unity, and had the first two not made bold to draw nigh the mubdi` then others would not have committed this zulm either.[666]

Towards the end of the commentary on this verse, the Bab makes the following interesting statement by way of offering another level of meaning:

So when Adam drew nigh the Tree of Reality [which was] the manifestation of Fátima in the precincts of Being he disobeyed his Lord because God had commanded him not to draw nigh unto her (lá taqrabhá) except through an ecstatic experience, because at the time of such an experience the one who draws nigh is [in fact] the Tree and nothing else.[667]

And when Moses said to his people, 'My people, you have done wrong against yourselves by your taking the Calf; now turn to your Creator and slay one another. That will be better in your Creator's sight , and He will turn to you; truly He turns, and is All-compassionate.' [2:54]

[This verse refers to] When `Alí said to those who abandoned the depth of his waláya (li'l-khárijín `an lujjat waláya) you have done wrong against yourselves. by your lingering (wuqúf) in the sea of the veils of glory (bahr al-subuhát) and allusions. So turn away from the Calf by taking that which will direct you to the tawhíd of your Lord and return to the divine waláya (al-waláya al-iláhíya) by turning away from the love of anything but it (waláya).

And slay your worldly egos (inníyátakum al-imkáníya) which have veiled you from attaining to your Creator. Because my waláya is the depth of the Exclusive Unity. And that will be better for you in your Creator's sight.[668]

The subject of inníya or negative self, recurs in the comparatively short commentaries on a series of verses, which continue the ordeal of Moses in the wilderness with the Children of Israel.[669] The point here is that refusal by the followers of false waláya to accept the waláya of `Alí, as announced as binding by the Prophet at Ghadír Khumm, is a direct result of this ego, specifically "their uprooted, lifeless egos" (inníyátahum al-mujattatha) and "other selfish interests" (shu'únát al-nafsáníyát). The first designation takes the modifier from Qu'ran 14:26:

And the likeness of a corrupt word is as a corrupt tree uprooted from the earth (ka-shajartin khabíthat i'jtuththat min fawq al-ard) having no stability.

This section is also a good example of the way in which the spiritual world is seen as being connected to the events of the historical world. The Qur'an is read as speaking about the fracturing of the Muslim community at the death of Muhammad. The "metahistorical" sabab (translated as "moyen" rather than "cause") for 2:67 is thus the famous speech at Ghadír Khumm, and is read as referring to the historical Moses in only a secondary sense. This reflects the spirit of akhbárí commentary, which reads the verse as referring to the "excellence of Muhammad and his family";[670] but the Bab's language is much more explicit than these sources.[671] The true test of the nafs then, is how it responds to this challenge to the unity of the umma.

The nafs as an organ of perception and spiritual or psychological principle is related to others such as the fu'ád, qalb, rúh, and `aql, of which it may be thought to be the lowest.[672] It is important therefore to notice briefly the way in which these subjects are treated by the Bab. The earliest mention of qalb is in the following verse:

In their hearts is a sickness, and there awaits them a painful chastisement for they have cried lies. [2:10]

The heart (qalb) is the foremost manifestation (mazhar) of the fu'ád and is in reality two hearts. One is the location (mahall) of the First Intellect, which is the heart of Muhammad, and the other is the qalb ma`kús which is the place of Universal Ignorance.[673] This one is the heart of Abú Bakr. They are two mines (ma`dinán). The first is the source of all good (aslu kulli khayrin), and one of its results (furú`) is tawhíd and all righteousness (birr). The second is the source of all evil (kulli sharrin), and one of its results is the rejection of God (i`rád `an alláh) and all evil (kullu sharrin). It represents the totality of all the hearts of all disbelievers (tamám qulúb al-káfirín) . . . . The way to [the first] is blocked (mardúd); but a First Intellect which tells the story in the contingent world about what is in the heart of Muhammad is the soul of `Alí.

`Alí said about this primal universal divine soul (al-nafs al-ulúhíya al-kullíya al-awwalíya): "It is a divine power (quwwatun láhútíyatun) and a simple essence (jawharun basítun) which lives with the Essence. Its source is the Intellect (`aql). It begins from it and summons on its behalf (da`at `an-hu) and indicates and alludes to it. Its return is to it whenever it is perfected and becomes like it. From it begin all existing things (mawjúdát), and to it they ultimately return. Thus it (the soul = this particular soul, i.e. Muhammad) is the exalted essence of God (fa-hiya dhát alláh al-`alíyan sic] and the Tree of Repentance (shajara tawbá) and the Lote-tree beyond which there is no passing, and the Garden of Refuge (mawá'). He who recognizes it (the soul) will never err and he who is ignorant of it errs and trespasses.[674]

This excerpt introduces several important features of the Bab's theology as its expression had developed by this time. These ideas are found quite early in Shí`ism, both "12er" and Ismá`ílí.[675] The First Intellect is here identified with Muhammad. As for intellect (`aql), the Bab quotes several popular traditions on the subject after citing a hadíth from `Alí, in which true philosophy is that which is conducive to good morals (al-akhláq al-nafsáníya).[676]

For the those who think (al-`uqalá'), all of the above is perceived in the verse:Thee only we serve and thee alone we pray for succour . [1:5]. Therefore let the pen flow in the mention of the Intellect (al-`aql), and I myself will recount its virtue in order that its people might know its value (qadrahu).

The Messenger of God said: "God has apportioned nothing more excellent for His servants than the intellect. The sleep of the wielder of intellect is more excellent than the wakefulness of the wielder of ignorance. The halting of the wielder of intellect is more excellent than the travelling from place to place (shukhús) of the wielder of ignorance. And God never raised up any prophet or messenger until He had perfected the intellect in him. And his intellect is more excellent than the whole community (umma). This means: That which the Prophet hides in himself is more excellent than the independent reasoning of all the religious scholars (ijtihád al-mujtahidín). And the servant does not really attain to the proper execution of the religious obligations until he understands it. That which comes (balagha) to the wielder of intellect and the wielders of intellect will not come to all the servants no matter how excellent their servitude (`ibáda=religious service). These [former] are men possessed of minds [ulú al-albáb. Q. passim. ] those about whom God has said: Only men possessed of minds remember [Q. 13:19 & 39:9].[677]

And `Alí said: "I opine that the intellect is two intellects: a priori (matbú`) and acquired (masmú`). The acquired is no use if there be no a priori, just as the light of the sun which is blocked (mamnú`) is no use to the eye." [678]

And he said: "The loss (faqd) of the intellect is the loss of life. And it can be compared with nothing except death."[679]

Sádiq said: "Verily the reward (al-thawáb) is in proportion to the intellect. It is the best loved of all things to God."

Ridá said: "The intellect is a shame according to God. But good behavior is a duty. He who feigns good behavior will eventually benefit. But he who feigns intellect will increase only in ignorance . . .the hadíth.[680]

In a very long hadíth which preserves a conversation between the sixth Imám, Sádiq, and his disciple Mufaddal, which the Bab quotes in extenso[681] during the course of his commentary on 2:27, a number of features of the intellect are further identified:

How is it that meaning abstracted from any form can occur in my mind? And can the Essence be imagined, or divided, or partitioned or changed from its kiyán, or fancied in the intellects as moving or at rest? And how can the Unseen appear "mixing" with weak creation? And how is the created thing able to regard the Creator, condsidering the weakness of created things?

Sádiq said: O Mufaddal! In the creation of the Heavens and the earth and the separation of night and day are signs for those possessed of minds. [2:164] O Mufaddal! Our knowledge is terribly abstruse (sa`b mustas`ab) and our secret much too difficult for the tongue to speak of in any but the most allusive language. Whatever our Shí`a knows, the same is according to their cognizance of us and their knowledge of us. Away with him who transmits what he does not understand and believes that which does not agree with reason or has matured in the mind.[682]

Here we see a kind of syzygy of reason and revelation in which the `aql is indispensable for right religion, although it appears that on its own it is unable to properly register the Unseen. As is the case with other faculties, or principles, the intellect is two-edged. Not only is it quite clear that the `aql is only profitable insofar as it used to contemplate the Imáms, but that it is also capable of leading to error. It would appear that the nafs, fu'ád, qalb, lubb, and `aql are equally incapable on their own and must be assisted through the Imám in some way to receive the tajallí.


It was the fu'ád which was earlier described as the "highest perceptive organ of man (wa huwa a`lá mashá`ir al-insán). At 2:8, the Bab says that the "name of the hidden one" (ism al-maknún) is the place where the Shí`a testify to the covenant of love [for the Imáms which is binding upon them] (mashhad `ahd al-mahabba li'l-shí`a). Its station is the fu'ád where the Hujja (the hidden Imám) appears (wa maqámuhá al-fu'ád azharahá al-Hujja, `alayhi al-salám)."[683] Later at verse 97, the Bab says that the heart (qalb) is the first thing which was produced by Origination (ibdá`), and Gabriel was appointed by God to carry to the heart that which is sent down from the fu'ád.[684] Here the fu'ád appears to be beyond the contingent world, which poses the problem of how it can function as a mashhad for the Shí`a. But it should be remembered that the heart here is Muhammad's ("qalbika") and therefore, presumably qualitatively different from others. This verse is part of a series which bears on the subject of the qá'im and will be treated at greater length below. Unfortunately, none of the several quranic verses which employ the word fu'ád are in the súra of Baqara. It is possible that the Bab would have described its several hierarchical levels, had the occasion arose, in which further details of its function would have become clear.

Before leaving this chapter on the way in which the divine appears to creation, it will be important to notice the treatment by the Bab of a subject introduced above, namely wijdán or ecstacy, which appears in two other passages of the tafsír. At verse 29 the Bab says the following:

As for the sign of the Exclusive Unity - it is in all things. And even if there is compostion (tarkib _ basít "simple") in their knowledge, God will remove (rafa`a) at the time of ecstacy (`inda wijdán), whatever (li-má hiya fí-há) was causing spiritual deficiency.[685] Nor [at this time] will there be in them any aspect of mixture or plurality, because they [at such time] are a proof (dalíl) of the Living, the Self-subsisting. And God did not make multiplicity a proof of His Exclusive Unity.

. . . No one knows Him and none understands His mode except Him. Nevertheless, the known (ma`rúf) is His Will [i.e., Muhammad or the Imáms] and the intended ultimate goal of contingency (gháyat al-imkán) as a result His bounty (fayd) in all regions (asqá`) according to what they are (bi-má hiya) and have (li-má hiya) of the manifestations (tajallíyát) of His will according to what they are (`alá má hiya).

Commenting on the quranicwhoso follows My guidance (man tabi`a hudá'í) at verse 38, the Bab says:

Following (al-tabí`íyya) has several degrees. "The paths to it (ilayhá) are as numerous as the souls of the creatures."[686] . . . I testify that the thing followed is his [`Alí's] waláya, inasmuch as as none can follow the guidance of God like him, because God, appeared (tajallá) to him by means of him, and verily He is the truth [41:53], Like Him there is naught [43:11], He is the Exalted (`Alí) the Great (kabír). [22:62; 31:30 34:23; 40:12].[687] And he (`Alí) is the Followed One in reality and therefore the Most Great Example (al-mathal al-kubrá, cf.79:20, etc.), and whatever is other than him if purified from accidence, and caused to abandon the lifeless forms (ashbáh), and mere similarities, and caused to enter the House of Glory, beholding the beauty of ecstacy[688] oblivious of the clouds of the contingent world (gháfilan `an sahá'ibi 'l-imkán), then he hasfollowed [689] the guidance of God by means of accidental form-ness (bi'l-`ardíyat al-shabahíya), so that no fear shall be on them, neither shall they sorrow [2:38]. [690]

Wijdán or wajdán (the vowelling is not specified in L) are derived from the root w j d from which wajada "he found". Wujúd, of course, means existence, or "the state of being found". The intensive noun forms can also mean "finding" but it is generally reckoned that their use by Muslim mystics refers to a special state in which a person finds himself and which at the same time is perhaps unheralded or unanticipated. This is in line with that element of the verb "to find" which connotes "coming upon something unawares". As an intensive form of W J D one might also translate the term as "superexistence".[691] Whatever the intent of wijdán in classical Sufism might be,[692] it is clear that the Bab associates it not with the unreachable divine Essence, but with `Alí, who could presumably be substituted by any other member of the ahl al-bayt.

In the passage quoted earlier, it was also clear that the wijdán experience caused a total absorption of the subject into the object. This is of course in line with the Sufi usage, but also reminiscent of the specifically Iranian hikmat-i iláhí as it developed from Suhrawardí to Mullá Sadrá and beyond to the Shaykhíya. The idea of "knowledge by presence" (`ilm-i hudúrí) is much akin to the idea expressed by the Bab, but with the characteristic difference, at least with respect to Mullá Sadrá, that the highest "object" with which the soul can attempt union is the Will, as hypostasized by Muhammad and the Imáms. In this respect, the Bab is faithful to the teachings of Shaykh Ahmad.[693] It may be speculated that the Bab's reference to wijdán stems from his own experience.[694]

Part i: Chapter 5



One of the more controversial topics in the study of Shaykhism is the problem of the Qá'im. The argument revolves around whether the Qa'im is to be understood as a personal spiritual principle, the appearance of which would be restricted to a zuhúr in the soul of the believer, or whether the Qá'im is to appear on the plane of history, as a specific and unique individual: the heretofore hidden Imám, Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-`Askarí. The question is therefore important for the study of the development of the Bábí religion. Depending upon the way it is answered, the Bab will be seen either as a "dissident" Shaykhí, or his eventual claim will be seen as the fulfillment (and therefore the continuation) of Shaykhí teachings.

Henry Corbin was the only scholar, in the second half of the twentieth century, to publish on Shaykhí thought in any detail. His analysis of the intricacies of Shaykhism, while undoubtedly coloured by personal biases,[695] has shed much light on this obscure movement,[696] which in its early stages had an impact on the formation of the Bab's religious ideas. His study of the subject led him to the conclusion that the function of the qá'im in Shaykhí thought was restricted to the interior spiritual life of the individual, and that there could be no question of an actual parousia of an historcal personage to be recognized in the "realm of politics" as the Qá'im. Corbin speaks therefore, of the "tragedie" of Bábism and Bahá'ism, precisely because they have recognised just such an historical advent.

In his commentary on 2:8, the Bab makes some very important statements pertinent to the whole discussion:

But another mashhad remains, and it is the dharr of the Fourth Support, the establishment of the Qá'im,[697] may God hasten his glad advent, in beginning his appearance (zuhúr), which is the dharr of taking the covenant by confessing that their [the Imáms'] Shí`a are the word of divine magnification (kalimat al-takbír, techincally alláhu akbar) in the midst of the holiness of praise (fí buhbúha quds al-tasbíh).

Therefore, when the Imám arises[698] to reveal this great covenant and noble allegiance to their Shí`a, which are the manifestations of themselves [from] the Ancient, then the companions of the 313[699] will flee from that covenant and allegiance. Then they will return and believe in the Hujja by means of this allegiance and that mashhad. Even if it involves three masháhid completely and potentially, its being and detailing is definitely about the establishment of the Hujja.

And of mankind are those who believe in God and His messenger and his trustees, but they are not believers because they do not believe in their Shí`a. And he who does not believe in them enters under the implications of this verse. While the believer is he who believes in his soul because of the secret of the hadith: tajallá la-há bi-há.

Sádiq alluded to this subject (al-maqám) in his statement, he said: "God created a name with/through letters without sound and with a term that has no articulation (bi'l-lafz ghayr mantiq) and with a body which is not corporeal (bi'l-shakhs ghayr mujassad), and with a similarity that is not describable, and with a colour that has no tint, banished from all lands, it is far removed from all limitations, and perception of all imagination is veiled from it - concealed without being hidden.

So God made it (i.e., this "name") a perfect word in four parts, while no single part has precedence over the other.[700] And because of the needs of creation for them, three names appeared from it, while one remained veiled. And that is the Hidden Name (al-ism al-maknún al-makhzún). . . .".

The Hidden Name is the mashhad of the covenant of the love of the shí`a, and its station is the heart (fu'ád), which the Hujja makes appear.[701] As for the three visible names:

[1] The first is God and it is the dharrat al-úlá,[702] i.e., the affirmation of the tawhíd of God.

[2] And the second is His name and it is the dharra of the praise of God, and it is the affirmation of Muhammad and his nubúwa.[703]

[3] And the third is His name and it is the dharr of lá iláh illá alláh on the day of al-ghadír. And it is the affirmation of the Trusteeship of `Alí and eleven of his descendants and Fátima.[704]

God caused these three to appear according to the need of creation for them. And He concealed one due to the incapacity of people(viz, to recognize it: wa hajaba wáhid li-`adam ihtimál al-khalq); but it is hidden within the souls of the Shí`a. Verily the one with keen insight (al-mutafarris) recognizes him with the light of reality.[705]

In the passage on the Greatest Name, quoted above in chapter 2, we read that the Shí`a is considered to be its fourth letter, or fourth support (rukn). Here, it would seem that the Shí`a itself is the repository of this Greatest Name as Qá'im. The Qá'im, as such, would then be a personal spiritual principle, the appearance or realization of which, is dependent upon the spiritual development of the individual member of the Shí`a. An understanding of the relation between the Greatest Name and the Qá'im is therefore of the first importance.

Qá'im and the Greatest Name

To Sayyid Kázim Rashtí, whom the Bab refers to as "my dear teacher" in the introduction to this commentary, is ascribed a short treatise on the subject of the Greatest Name, a brief analysis of which will not be out of place here.[706]

Commenting on the graphic representation, or amulet of the Greatest Name [ ][707] which is the subject of his treatise, Rashtí says the following:

The star (khátam) refers to the appearance of the name (zuhúr al-ism), that is, the greatest manifestation . . . on five levels. And there is no ceasing to these levels and tokens. In every level God is known, by means of them, by him who knows that "there is no distinction between Him and between [the levels] except that they are His servants and creation."

[1] The first is the maqám al-bátin wa 'l-sirr al-muqanna` ... [708]

[2] The second is the maqám zuhúr dhálika al-ism al-a`zam. Insofar as it is the maqám al-bátin. It is the beginning, as related in the

tradition: "I desired to be known".

[3] The third is the zuhúr fí maqám al-záhir, the maqám al-`amá.

[4] The fourth is the zuhúr in the visible station as visible,and the

station of the mystery and the bátin al-bátin.

[5] The fifth is the station of the appearance and the radiance of the lights (ishraq al-núr) and it is the grade of manifestation

(tajallí), . . .the places of the "meanings (ma`ání, e.g., the Imáms) and the place where the banner of praise appears (mazhar liwá' al- hamd) . . . and the oil which would almost shine forth though no fire touched it; Light upon light; God guides to His light whom He will. And God strikes similitudes for men, and God has knowledge of everything. [24:35].[709]

In commenting on another element of the device [ ], Rashtí says:

The reversed wáw (wáw munakkas) is an allusion to the Hujja, Ibn al-Hasan . . . because it represents the culmination of perfect doubled numeration in the visible grades of visible waláya which is on the visible Throne of the knowledge of God. Its day is Friday, because it is the sixth (wáw = 6) of the seven days. From it [comes] the wáw and all the manifestations of the há' [another element of the device, see above] in detail because the the há' is the sáhib al-jam` and the wáw is the sáhib al-tafsíl. . . The mystery of the reversal (sirr al-tankís) is his (al-Hujja's) return after concealment and his appearance after being hidden . . . And the alif [viz, in ] is the qá'im, the "one who abides over the two gulfs" (al-wáqif bayn al-tatanjayn) and the barzakh between the two worlds and the one who purifies the earth of all defilement.[710]

Rashtí later quotes the Imam Reza:

"The basmala is closer to the Greatest Name than the black of the eye is to the white."[711]

For this reason, what appears from it appears from it . . . since all wonders are "from them and by them and towards them and in them".[712] This proximity is a proximity of participation (qurb al-mudákhala), which is nearer than mere connection (al-mulásaqa). . . . And the Family of Muhammad are this Greatest Most Ancient Name. For further information you should consult my commentary of the Khutbat al-tatanjíya as well as what I have said in my other studies. . . . It is all connected to the sayings of the Imáms: "We are the most beautiful names which God commanded his servants to call on Him by." They are the loftiest example (al-mathal al-a`lá).[713]

The purpose of these quotations is to draw attention to the emphasis placed on zuhúr by Rashtí. While the zuhúr mentioned here may be restricted to a spiritual location (although there is no explicit mention of `álam al-mithál or Húrqalyá), it is obvious that the references to it could evoke in the mind of the reader the advent of an actual historical event. Such an interpretation of this, or similar statements by Rashtí, form the background of the Bab's eventual claims and the acceptance of these by his early followers, many of whom are identified as having been Shaykhís.[714]

The same may be said for the statements of Shaykh Ahmad, who has also commented on this reversed wáw, and seen it as a symbol of the Qá'im. The following is part of a letter asking about this subject from a follower of Shaykh Ahmad and the latter's response. The question is put as follows:

It is mentioned in your noble reply . . . that our Lord the Proof . . . is in Húrqalyá, but his appearance (zuhúr) and return (raj`a) will be in the world of archetypes (`álam al-mithál). I do not understand the meaning of his being in Húrqalyá. Is it what is to be understood from some traditions, that when Sálih ibn Sa`íd had alighted at the Sa`álik caravanserai and was grieved at his having to stay there, our Lord Abú 'l-Hasan the second (i.e. the ninth Imám, `Alí ibn Muhammad al-Naqí al-Hádí, d. 254/868) showed him elegant gardens and flowing streams and bowers in which there were scented flowers and boys like hidden pearls, until Sálih's gaze became baffled? And he said, on him be peace, 'wherever we may be, these belong to us, O Ibn Sa`íd'. These things are not limited to some of them (i.e., the Imáms) or to one time but not another or in any other way, so explain (the matter to us), because it is a place where one may imagine the descent of a discharge from the elemental temple and a discharge into the archetypal matrix, and that is all. Thus, (the concept of) the creation of the Shí`a and the generation of one thousand from one of them contradict (the notion of) the return taking place in the world of archetypes.

Shaykh Ahmad said:

I reply that Húrqalyá is in the eighth clime and the meaning of this term is another realm, in which there are two cities . . . Jábarsá . . . and Jábulqá.

As for the matter of his appearance (zuhúr), may God hasten his glad advent, and the explanation of its time and place, know that in this world he feared his enemies, and when he fled from this (realm) called the world (al-dunyá . . .), he transferred his residence to the (realm of) the primal (al-úlá). The creation travels towards him, but he, on him be peace, is swift in his progress and has traversed the distance in an instant, whereas mankind's progress towards the primal is controlled by the divine decree (al-taqdír) at the speed of a ship with its passenger on this stagnant river called Time (al-zamán). The two ends of Time, its beginning and its end, are both subtle (latíf) according to the subtlety of the bodies that stand in them and the subtlety of those places. But the middle of Time is dense like the density of its bodies and its places. So, when they reach him, he shall rise in the cause and the religion shall appear in its totality.

The days are . . .three . . . The first day is the World (al-dunyá), and the second day is the Primal (al-úlá), which is the day of his rising up (qiyám) and his return (raj`a) with his fathers . . . and their followers (shí`a), and the third day is the day of the great resurrection (al-qiyáma al-kubrá). In the Ziyárat al-jámi`a (are the words): "[The Imams are]the Proofs of God unto the people of the World (al-dunyá) . . . and the hereafter (al-ákhira) . . . and the Primal (al-úlá) . . ." And that time is subtler and its people are subtler and its places are subtler to the extent that, at its end, the subtlety of his Time shall be seventy times greater than that of this Time. And this is the meaning of my statement that he is in Húrqalyá and that he is in the eighth clime.

Concerning your words 'in the world of archetypes', know that the world of archetypes (consists of) the forms of things (suwar al-ashyá') and the form which is the occasions belongs to the world of archetypes, and when you remove these forms which you behold in the bodies from the bodies, they belong to the world of archetypes. But the Imám, on him be peace, shall not return as a form but he and all those who return with him and with his fathers shall return in the same bodies in which they appeared in the World, except that in their bodies there shall be a purification from the excess of the bodies of the Imáms on account of the strength of the departure of their souls (nufús) from the most exalted spot. And the man shall inform his people about what they shall eat and what they shall store up in their houses. And the earth shall be folded up as he walks over it, as al-Hádí, on him be peace, showed Sálih ibn Sa`íd; nor did the latter see him in a form or as a fancy, but in reality. And the outward meaning of this is that he withdrew (the veil) from his sight and he beheld the garden in itself, not in its form. But as for its real meaning, he, on him be peace, took Sálih to the garden and caused him to enter into it, after which he brought him out of it.

And when the World . . . ends, its last minute shall be the first minute of the Primal (al-úlá). `Alí, on him be peace, referred to this in his khutba when he said 'I am he that stands between the two gulfs (al-tatanjayn).' And in the blessed name transmitted from him, which is this: . The inverted wáw is the Qá'im . . . and its being inverted is a reference to the fact that its form is thus:

They have . . . said that the first (wáw) is a reference to the six days in which al-dunyá was created, while the second wáw is a reference to the days in which al-úlá was created, and the alif between them is a reference to the fact that he is the Qá'im . . . between al-dunyá and al-úlá, which are the two rivers (gulfs). The Qá'im . . . shall return in al-úlá, not in the archetypes, and, as regards his departure (from Húrqalyá?), he shall be in his elemental body (haykal) in the realm of the elements (al-`unsuriyya), and in his archetypes in the realm of archetypes (al-mitháliyya), and in his eternal body (jasad) in the eternal bodies, and in his true body (jism) in the true bodies, and in his soul in the souls, and in his spirit in the spirits (i.e. he will take on the nature of each of these realms). The birth of the shí`a and their marriage and life are in the true bodies and the independent souls, the truth of independence of which reside in their relationship to the truth of these true bodies like the relationship of the true bodies to the accidents (al-`arád) and the essences to the accidents. The truth of al-dunyá with regard to al-úlá is like that of the shadow with regard to the one who casts it. And God guides to the straight path.[715]

To begin with, it is important to bear in mind that the basic technical terms of this commentary, al-dunyá, al-ákhira, and al-úlá, are taken from one of the verses of the Ziyárat al-jámi`a, upon which Shaykh Ahmad wrote a very dense commentary, many times referred to in these pages.[716] A part of his commentary may be translated as:

The meaning of the first (al-úlá) is the return (raj`a) of the Family of Muhammad, or the rise of their Qá'im, or (the rise of) most of them. It is called al-úlá in relationship to al-ákhira.[717]

Shaykh Ahmad then quotes two traditions relevant to the quranic verse and remind them of the days of God [14:5]:

The days of God are the day on which the Qá'im shall arise, and the day of the return (al-karra), and the day of resurrection.

The days of God are three: the day of the Qá'im, and the day of death, and the day of resurrection.[718]

MacEoin's says:

At its most basic, it would seem that al-Ahsá'í thought in terms of three days or ages, the first the present state of things (al-dunyá), the second the day of the appearance of the Qá'im and the return of the Imáms (al-úlá), and the third the last, general resurrection . . . . To this extent, there is some justification in the Bahá'í interpretation of the inverted wáw referred to in his letter as a reference to three ages. But . . . from the foregoing and from a wider reading of al-Ahsá'í's writings on related subjects [it is apparent] that he did not conceive of a rather crude, linear movement of three successive ages, but a much more sophisticated system in which concepts of time, space, movement and so forth are elaborately interrelated. [719]

The thrust of MacEoin's article, quite beside the point of this study, is to say that the teachings of Shaykh Ahmad on the significance of the "reversed wáw", have been misrepresented by Bahá'í scholars for the purposes of aligning the claims of Bahá'u'lláh with Shaykh Ahmad's "prophecies". The basic Bahá'í interpretation of history is that the Bab represented a turning point between two major cycles of history: the first, is referred to as "the cycle of prophecy", the second, as "the cycle of fulfillment" during which the prophecies will be realized. (Acccording to Bahá'í teaching we are now in this cycle of fulfillment.) The Bab, according to this interpretation, represents both a break with the past and a "door" to the future. As such (and at least on one level), he fulfills the requirements of the designation al-úlá as set out by Shaykh Ahmad above, as may be seen in one of his most common titles, "The Primal Point" (al-nuqtat al-úlá).

As for Shaykh Ahmad's theory of time, it represents a relatively recent development. The concepts of subtle (latíf) and dense (kathíf) time and space have been a subject in Islamic philosophy since at least the 13th century.[720] Later, Qádí Sa`íd Qummí (1049/1639-1103/1691), a student of Muhsin Fayz Káshání, was particularly attracted to the subject and developed a theory which Corbin has referred to as the "Enfoldment of time and space". According to this, everything which exists concretely, that is to say everything which is compact and dense, is at the same time material (compact and dense) and spiritual (subtle) and forms a unity, a unique individuality. Just as there is a quantum (miqdár) of matter and a quantum of space imparted to each individuality, there is also for each individuality a quantum of personal time which is his alone. The quantity of this time varies according to the individual. . . . The more subtle (spiritual) the body, the more subtle the quantum of time and the more it is capable of being enlarged. There is therefore the dense (kathíf) time of the sensible world, and there is the subtle time of the malakút (imaginal, not to be confused with zamán mawhúm "imaginary time"). There is finally the time which is absolutely subtle (altaf) in the world of jabarút (intelligible and intellective). Subtle time is spoken of sometimes in terms of enfoldment, and sometimes dilation, according to the circumstances. The quantum of time given to a spiritual individual can encompass an immensity of being; it can also have present to itself a multitude, namely the totality of moments of being in a perfect synchronicity. Succession becomes simultaneity; time becomes space. Speaking of the time and space of prophets, he says: Their subtlety is such that the time and movements in our experience are enfolded in [their] malakúti time and movements.[721]

Corbin has also analyzed the subject as it appears in the writings of Shaykh Ahmad himself, and fortunately, specifically as it relates to the "six days of creation" represented by the wáw (= 6 in abjad reckoning) discussed in the above commentaries of Shaykh Ahmad and Sayyid Kázim. This wáw, it should be remembered, is susceptible of being broken down into two wáws and an alif. The first wáw then has been seen as representing dawr al-satr; the second, the dawr al-kashf; while the alif represents the Qá'im as standing between the two "gulfs" (viz, al-tatanjayn) of time. Corbin sees in the "motif de l'hexaémeron " a striking case of "isomorphisme" between time and space which has been developed by both the Shaykhís and the Ismá`ílís.

Une fois perÁue la simultanéité á laquelle est reconduite la sucession des "six jours", voici qu'á son tour le sens du "septième jour" est de spatialiser le temps de l'Imám de la restauration (Qá'im al-Qiyámat). Le "septième jour" met fin au conflit de l'espace et du temps. C'est l'aspect sous lequel nous avons á saisir le lien entre l'eschatologie et l'isomorphisme des formes temporelles et des formes spatiales . . .[722]

The "six days" according to Shaykh Ahmad have a double meaning [a function of the two wáws mentioned above]. The first, is that they represent the six worlds which constitute the macrocosmo, the worlds of: 1) the Intellects, 2) Souls, 3) Nature, 4) Substances, involving atoms (al-habá'), matter (maddá) or light (núr), 5) the world of the Image (mithál), and finally 6) the world of material bodies.

The second meaning of the "six days" is according to the "second creation (khalq thání)'. In this context, they are seen as being the elements which compose each existing thing. None of these "days" can appear before the other. These six are: quantity, modality (kayf), time (waqt), place (makán), aspect (jihat), and rank (rutba). Waqt is divided into the three categories found in the writings of Qází Sa`íd, namely: kathíf, latíf, and altáf. There is therefore chronological time (zamán), which is divided into three categories: "subtil, moyen et dense". These correspond to the different states of the body, from the subtle to the material. There is also dahr "sempiternité" which is in three parts as well: the time of jabarút (the world of Intellects) which is subtle; the time of malakút (the world of Souls) which is medium; and the time of sarmad, eternity. Sarmad also has three levels, corresponding to the creative Act: subtle, which is associated with the divine Will; medium, which is the time of the "prestructuration" of beings (perhaps the yawm al-mitháq); and a third which is dense and opaque, representing the divine Decree (qadá) and "signature" (imdá').[723] Corbin says:

On pressent facilement que le troisième et le quatrième "jour" tels que les analyse Shaykh Ahmad, offrent déjá á la pénsée toutes les resources souhaitables pour établir l'isomorphisme des formes dans les temps et des formes dans l'espace, et par la m�(tm)me pour réaliser la transmutation du temps en espace, ou encore pour effectuer le passage eschatalogique de temps de ce monde-ci au temps d'un monde autre, mettant fin au premier. Il n'est malheureusement pas possible d'y insister ici; il faut nous contenter d'énoncer ici ce qui fait apparaítre une convergence remarquable, une démarche de pensée commune á la théosophie shaykhie et á la théosophie ismaélienne, particulièrement chez le grand théosophe ismaélien iranien Násir-e Khosraw.[724]

This Ismá`ílí interpretation of the "six days" is also of some interest because, as Corbin points out, Shaykh Ahmad has said the same thing himself in his own writings. According to Násir-i Khusraw, the "six days" are susceptible of a double interpretation. The first is the "day" which is measured by the rising and setting of the sun. The second, or esoteric interpretation, sees the "six days" as the six forces of nature which function within a given exoteric day: movement, rest, matter, form, time, and space.

All of these forces of nature leave a permanent imprint on every being and thing which exists in the material world. Thus the contour of all that is material presents six sides or directions: high and low, rear and front, right and left. The six sides of the physical solid are the hexaémeron, the six "permanent" days of creation. The seventh day is the totality itself, the solid (or the physical person) which supports the six sides.

C'en est aussi la dimension suprasensible, puisque en fait c'est l'áme qui perÁoit la forme, la totalité.[725]

Being the seventh side of the solid with six sides, in three dimensions, the "seventh day" is therefore something like a fourth dimension. Seen as the totality of the cosmos, it is the Human Form "achevant et prolongeant au-delá de lui-m�(tm)me le processus cosmique." Seen as hiérocosmos in the spiritual world, it is the form of the Resurrector (Qá'im), the last Imám, who in giving the signal for the Resurrection of Resurrections (qiyáma al-qiyámat), inaugurates the passage from our world in the present cycle of occultation (dawr al-satr) to the cycle of epiphany (d. al-kashf) which must succeed it.[726]

MacEoin is therefore correct in referring to the complexity of Shaykh Ahmad's thought. Indeed, we have seen how history was also quite maleable to a certain degree, in the hands of the Bab. For example, his interpretation of quranic verses which "appear" to refer to pre-Islamic history, but which are read as referring to Shí`í salvation history. This method has been shown to derive from akhbárí exegesis, which of course supported the more speculative projects of men like Qádí Sa`íd and Shaykh Ahmad. It is important to repeat: the typical vocabulary of these speculations (e.g., Húrqalyá, al-zamán al-latíf, `álam al-mithál) is completely absent from the Bab's tafsír, although it is also obvious that that work displays certain Shaykhí influences. This would seem to argue for a less "sophisticated" system informing this work. But to return to Shaykh Ahmad and his system, the following remarks are worth quoting:

Lorsque les shaykhis désignent cette perception de la dimensio mystica (ou malakútí ) comme "vision des choses en Húrqalyá", ils désignent en ce sens un mode de vision eschatologique. Dans l'idée d'une eschatologie qui n'est pas un événement devant surgir á l'improviste un jour lointain, mais qui est en train de s'accomplir présentement ... est impliquée la capacité de "percevoir les choses en Húrqalyá", c'est-a-dire de percevoir hic et nunc, par leur dimensio mystica, la totalité des �(tm)tres et des choses, dont la succession du temps chronologique permet chaque fois qu'une perception partielle.[727]

As seen above in the long translation from the letter of Shaykh Ahmad on the subject, the return of the Qá'im is precisely this total return, occurring "not [? only] in the archetypes" but "he shall be in his elemental body in the realm of the elements and in his archetypes in the realm of the archetypes". This statement implies that the return will happen at every level of the universe and would therefore include, or at least be easily "misinterpreted" to include, the realm of mundane time, space and history. Corbin denies the possibility of such an interpretation in his critique of Bábism and Bahá'ism (cited above). Corbin's insistence on a "style gothique" in his reading of Shaykhism obviously represents only one of several possible interpretations. This is particularly so in view of the event of the Bábí parousia and, more significantly, the recognition of this by Shaykhí students. It is important to bear in mind, however, that Corbin was greatly influenced by the Shaykhism which developed under the impetus of Karím Khán Kirmání who emphasized the "vertical" dimension of his forebears' teachings.[728] This influence is visible in the following quotation:

La parousie de l'Imám, n'est pas un événement exterieur qui doive surgir un beau jour inattendu, mais une Présence s'accomplissant d'acte en acte d'anticipation.[729]

It would appear that such a statement is too categorical in denying the possibility of any exterior event. As has been illustrated in the preceding pages, both from the writings of the Bab and the various references to the writings of Shaykh Ahmad and Sayyid Kázim, the exterior and the interior form a basic syzygy both in the interpretative act as well as in Being per se.[730] To emphasize the importance of one over the other, may not in the end have been true to the spirit (or letter) of the writings of these thinkers, and may therefore do violence to the total vision promulgated them.

A recent study of Shaykhism has emphasized the zamání or historical implications of the eschatology in the writings of Shaykh Ahmad and Sayyid Kázim.[731] The author indeed seems to take for granted that these two foresaw an actual advent of the Imám, in an individual. Inasmuch as both men were in fact12er Shí`ites, writing at a time close to the long-awaited millenium of their faith, it would not be surprising to discover that they expected (in addition to the spiritual and esoteric qiyáma indicated above) an actual individual to arise as Qá'im. This would seem to be in line with the universality of their thought, a thought which sees the part and the whole ("vahdat dar kasrat"), as subject to the same laws of a divine universe. A refusal to countenance the advent of a spiritual superman is perhaps in line with the kind of mistrust of heros, or authority, which has developed in our time. It would be wrong to retroject upon the writings of Ahsá'í an interpretation which may be faithful to twentieth century philosophical tastes, but which for that ignores several important features of the Sitz im Leben which these works must necessarily reflect.

The fact that the Bab makes no mention of subtle time, or any of the other terms mentioned above, could be taken to suggest (from silence) that he thought the Qá'im would actually arise. Depending upon one's interpretation of Shaykhism, this could mean either that the Bab had seized upon a single aspect of qiyáma as taught by that school, or that he departed from its teachings on this subject. In the latter case, the Bábís might be seen as dissident Shaykhís. Much more work needs to be done on this question. The following citations represent the balance of the Bab's comments on the subject of the Qá'im.

Qá'im in Tafsír súrat al-baqara

In addition to the above statement identifying the Qá'im as the Fourth Support and functioning as a spiritual principle in the "souls of the Shí`a", there are numerous other mentions of the Qá'im throughout the tafsír (particularly toward the end). For convenience much of this material is presented below, beginning with the earliest mention and covering all of the Bab's significant statements on the subject.

Who believe in the Unseen, and perform the prayer, and expend of that We have provided them; [2:3]

And theUnseen (al-ghayb) it is Muhammad, because he is absent to whatever is other than he. None knows his true essence (kunh) but God. And the specific [intention] of this Unseen (wa tafsíl hádhá al-ghayb) it is the Qá'im, Muhammad ibn al-Hasan.

And he is the one about whom al-Sádiq . . . said: "He is the hidden proof (al-hujjat al-ghá'ib)." [732]

And `Alí is the same (nafs) as the Messenger of God, as is clearly indicated in his (Muhammad's) lofty statement: 'My záhir is imáma and my bátin is a forbidden hiddeness of which none is aware.'"

And there are an unlimited number of possible grades tothe Unseen. al-imkán is the ghayb al-akwán in each world.[733] The possible world is hidden from the real world in each universe accordingly (bi-hasabihi). And the actuality (kawn) of the higher chain (silsilat al-a`lá) is the ghayb of the lower chain (silsilat al-sáfil). Thus it proceeds with the case of the universal and the particular, realities and [mere] attributes, infinitely.

And as for the Ahl al-Bayán, the Unseen is the same as the visible (al-shaháda), and the visible is the same as the Unseen . And none knows the Unseen except God.

And according to the Ahl al-Záhir, which [záhir] is the same as al-bátin according to the ahl al-bátin, it is as Abú al-Hujjat al-Hasan al-`Askarí said in the tafsír of this verse:

Those who believe in the Unseen , that is (ya`ní) in that which is hidden from their senses about those things which faith obligates them, like the resurrection (al-ba`th), the judgement (al-hisáb), Paradise (al-janna), Hell, and the tawhíd of God, and the rest of whatever is not known by seeing, whereas it is known by rational proof (dalá'il). [They are what] God established (nasaba), like Adam and Eve and Idrís and Núh and Ibráhím and the prophets upon which faith was obligatory, and the proofs (hujaj) of God, even though they do not see them . . . .[734]

And when We appointed with Moses forty nights then you took to yourselves the Calf after him and you were evildoers. [2:51]

And the meaning (murád) with the foremost reality of Moses is Muhammad.

And [the meaning of] forty is `Alí, and the ten proofs (hujaj) from his progeny.

And when the Merciful appointed [means: appointed] for Muhammad. thirty nights, and the meaning (murád) is `Alí because he remained after the death of Muhammad for thirty years. And [the forty ] is completed by ten: Hasan and Husayn, and the eight Imáms from the progeny of Husayn.

And the allusion to nights is the concealment (ikhtifá') of their glory in the darkness of disbelief.

So, when God (al-haqq) caused the waláya of His Prophet and Trustees to appear, He informed [them] about the disbelief of his enemies together with [the idea of] their taking for a Trustee (wasíy) the First (Abú Bakr). And he is the Calf [which they took] after the Messenger clearly distinguished (tabayyana) the Trusteeship of `Alí for them.

That therefore was the allegiance (ba`ya) to Abú al-Dawáhí, may God curse him [they are the] evildoers.

And the Qá'im, when God manifests His cause in the Return (al-raj`a), that which I have only alluded to will clearly appear. And his station is [specifically] for the manifestation (zuhúr) of his sovereignty, on the part of God some specific day (`inda alláh kána yawman). And he is Muhammad, and Muhammad is he. May God hasten both their days. Because the promise of God is as good as accomplished (wa`d alláh maf`úlan).[735]

Then you turned away thereafter, and but for the bounty (fadl)and mercy of God towards you, you had been of the losers. [2:64]

Before God the meaning (wa 'l-murád laday al-haqq) of bounty is the Qá'im. And he is the bounty of God in all the worlds. And were it not for him, Origination would not have been originated and Invention would not have been generated. By him Origination rose up[736] and by him the fruit of Invention acquired existence (wujidat) from the sign of the Pure Exclusive Unity, and the signs of the pure Inclusive Unity.

He who believes, insofar as he is capable (bi-má huwa `alayhi) in the divine unity (al-wahda) and the kingdom (al-jabarút), will have gathered to himself the bounty from his Lord and will be purified of the baseness of the losers by means of an unearned gift (júd) from his Imám.[737] But only a few believe in him.

If the covering be removed [cf. 50:22 ] to the extent of but a single drop (rashha) from his unity (wahdati-hi), and a single allusion from his dominion (jabarútíyatihi), then all created things will be dumbfounded by his grace, and would long for the atmosphere of his love by entering into the city of the form (shabah) of his self, oblivious of all but him, so that only immortality remains as his sign. And the heavens and the earth would be filled with the sound of "There is no god but God", and to Him is the Destiny [Qur'an passim].[738]

Those to whom We have given the Book and who recite it with true recitation, they believe in it; and whoso disbelieves in it, they shall be the losers. [2:121]

The intention (murád) is the Family of God. By the Book is meant the appearance (zuhúr) of God to them by means of them, they cause the appearance of God to appear to themselves as a true appearance, in such a way that their stations do not show up in any world except on the authority of the manifestation of the absolute truth (illá `an al-mazhar al-haqq al-mutlaq). Whatever is other than them is proper to the contingent world, according to what each merits through origination, and whatever is in its potential through invention. And invention, and whatever is dormant in it, glorifies their splendour. [ibdá` & ikhtirá` = are treated as feminine here.] They are not heedless of the least thing in all of the worlds of contingency and actuality concerning the true recitation of the Qur'an. They believe in God alone, because they point the way on the authority of God alone. And whoso disbelieves in it (bi-hi), that is to say, the Qá'im, Muhammad ibn al-Hasan, during his life, and during his return and his advent (zuhúr) and his state (dawlati-hi),they shall be the losers. Because they will have lost for their souls during their lives the radiance (tala'lu') which comes from the brilliance (tasha`shu`) of purchasing (ishtará';continues the commercial metaphor of loss, khusr) the sign of his (Qá'im) self, him whom God has deposited in the imkán of all created things. Therefore they became losers. [739]

And those that believe and do deeds of righteousness - those are the inhabitants of Paradise; there they shall dwell forever.' [2:82]

[This means that] those that believe that the signs of God in all the worlds are the signs of the signs of `Alí, by origination.

And verily the Essence has no road to It, nor does it have a sign. And none knows Its "how" except It. If It did have a sign that would necessitate connection (iqtirán). And It is exalted [above such].

`Alí ibn al-Husayn said: "By God, the signs are our signs, and waláya is one of them."

And do deeds of righteousness [in connection with the fact] that none can perform [anything] in the world except through God (bi-'lláh) and for God (li-'lláh). And in all his motions, he moves on the authority of God, and does not abandon the depth of the Exclusive Unity for an instant, although he sees created things. And his soul is a single soul . God (al-haqq) said: Your creation and your upraising are as but as a single soul. [31:28]

And his soul appeared from the soul of the God (al-haqq) in all attributes and names. His (the Qá'im's) forgiveness is His forgiveness, his patience is His patience, his tolerance is His tolerance, his self-sufficiency is His self-sufficiency, and his gift is His gift.

Therefore he is in the attributes of the Exclusive Unity and divinity (ulúhíya) and rahmáníya and wáhidíya, and in all these allusions.

Verily, the servant fears none but God in his doing. And when it is like that then has he performed deeds of righteousness - those [deeds]are the companions ("inhabitants" asháb) of the Qá'im, truly. And they are in the Most Great Ridwán, dwelling forever. Because the Proof (al-hujja) is the face of the Worshipped One, and there is no end to him (lá zawál la-hu). He who enters into his waláya, by means of his [Qá'im] immortality (fa-bi-baqá'i-hi), that one shall be immortal.

But, [even] that face is a generated face which God has related to His self, nobly. Nevertheless, that is the highest limit (gháya) of immortality from the bounty (fayd) of God for the people of the world of contingency.

He who is in the waláya of the Qá'im is then in paradise dwelling forever.

But the Face of the Lord which appears to all created things, by means of them (la-hu bi-hi) is not devoid of meaning.[740]

And We gave to Moses the Book, and after him sent succeeding Messengers; and We gave Jesus son of Mary the clear signs, and confirmed him with the Holy Spirit; and whensoever there came to you a Messenger with that your souls had not desire for, did you become arrogant, and some cry lies to, and some slay. [2:87]

And [the meaning of] and We gave Jesus son of Mary the clear signs, is the immortality (al-baqá') attendant upon the honour of the meeting (li-sharaf liqá') with the Proof, Muhammad bin al-Hasan, the Sáhib al-Amr.

And he isthe clear signs, in the estimation of God.

And the Proof willconfirm him (Jesus ), during the Return (al-raj`a) through his government (wizára). And he is the meaning (murád) of with the Holy Spirit.

And it [this holy spirit] is the greatest of the angels, inasmuch as the angels are like letters joined in grammar while the Holy Spirit, his station, with respect to [this analogy with] letters, is as a single letter, [which] however, has a comprehensive intent. Its grade is with [both] mankind and the angels. And he is the angel (malak) which God created for the purpose of educating (tarbíya) the body (jism) of Muhammad and his Family in this world. And he is the greatest servant (al-khaddám) of the Family of God.

God confirmed Jesus through him because he is the most noble of the Shí`a of `Alí in the contingent world. So, whenever the Proof came to you from God with that which your polytheistic souls did not desire, did you become arrogant, and some cry lies to, and some slay. [741]

But they will never long for it, because of that their hands have forwarded; God knows the evildoers. [2:95]

God informs about those who swerved from the love of al-Husayn. They will never long for the manifestation of the Qá'im (zuhúr al-qá'im), may God hasten his glad advent, because he in the estimation of God, is the death of justice, if you judge fairly.[742]

And We have sent down unto thee signs, clear signs, and none disbelieves in them except the ungodly. [2:99]

And We have sent down by means of thee unto thee (bi-ka ilay-ka), O Muhammad!, signs of the Exclusive Unity, clear signs of the Inclusive Unity, in thyself and its manifestations (mazáhir) in the souls of thy Trustees. And [We have sent ] the likeness of these two (thy soul and the souls of thy trustees) tothe horizons and the souls [41:53] of all others [than thy trustees and thyself].

But only a few of them believe [passim] and do not disbelieve in them , that is, the waláya of the Qá'im (bi-há: quranic fem. pl. pronoun applied to a fem. singular noun) in thesign of whose waláya (waláyati-há) God placed each of the signs and the clear signs, except [for the]the ungodly folk. [743]

Nay, but whosoever submits his will (wajha-hu) to God, being a good doer (muhsin), his wage is with his Lord, and no fear be on them, neither shall they grieve. [2:112]

Nay, he will enter all the paradises whoeversurrenders the sign of God (man aslama áyata lláhi) which God manifested to each by means of each essence/individual (`ayn) other than Himself, both actually and potentially (kawnan wa imkánan).

And submits his will means the Family of God [submitted ] to God because they tell no story concerning ( yahkúna fí) any world or station except on the authority of God.

He is a good-doer (muhsin) means "one who distinguishes (mush`ir)" when he enters Paradise and abides upon the throne of divine might that it (fem.) is one of the "lifeless forms (shabah min ashbáh) of the Family of God, and [distinguishes between this and the fact that] to the One Essence (al-dhát al-ahad) there is no road for contingency.

So when he acknowledges, through servitude, the Family of God, in Paradise, then he is a good-doer in the estimation of the Lord, so that his wage will be with his Lord.

When anyone submits according to what I have described, he is then one who has surrendered thewage which has come [to him] from the Family of God, because the very act of attaining the depth of the Exclusive unity is itself the same as his wage. This depth is existentiated (tadhawwatat) from (min `inda ) the zuhúr of the Family of God. Those possessed of perception testify to one upholding justice [3:18: qá'im bi'l-qist] therein. Whoever enters it his wage will be found with God. In it [Paradise] there is no fear . . . And there will be no grief for the one who attains it, because grief is not the grieved one (al-mahzún) and in Paradise there is no trace of change or distinction. Nay rather God made that sea pure for His own self, transcendent above the dust of anything but Him, purified from any but the mention of God. Exalted be God, its Originator (mubdi`), above what you attribute.

Those who submit their wills to God through the waláya of the Qá'im, Muhammad ibn al-Hasan, then their wage is with God during his Return, inasmuch as God has promised that He would be gracious to those that were abased in the earth [28:5], that is, the earth of divine power (al-qudra) and would make them Imáms [28:5: a'imma: Arberry: "leaders"), that is in divine power like them, whatever they desire exists (má yashá'úna illá wajadú), and to make them inheritors [28:5], that is, make them firmly established in the sign of tawhíd, because to God belongs the inheritance (irth for míráth) of the heavens and the earth [3:180 & 57:10].

And that station is more honourable than the first because the first is absolutel non-existence in its region. God will make good His promise, and the promise of God is near (wa`d alláh qaríban).[744] And there will be no fear concerning the waláya of the First for anyone who submits his will to the waláya of the Qá'im, nor grief concerning the waláya of the Second, inasmuch as these two [fear and grief ] are their attributes. And God purifies those who acknowledge the waláya of the Family of God from the attributes of those two, if they are upright (law kánú qá'imín).[745]

And when Abraham said, 'My Lord, make this a land secure, and provide its people with fruits, such of them as believe in God, and the Last Day.' He said, 'And whoso disbelieves, to him I shall give enjoyment a little, then I shall compel him to the chastisement of the Fire - how evil a homecoming!' [2:126]

`Alí said: 'My lord, make the sign of Muhammad, [which is] in potential and actuality (fí al-imkán wa al-akwán) this land secure, purified for Thee alone, no partner hast thou, secure from the mention (dhikr) of all but Thee.

And provide its people with fruits from the power of origination and invention, according to whatever they want. Such of them as believe in God, He who there is no god other than He, and in the Qá'im who is himselfthe Last Day, in the estimation of the Merciful.

God said: And whoso disbelieves in the sign of the Exclusive Unity, which is the land of Muhammad, I shall give enjoyment [of]a little manifestation of the immortality (baqá') of the Family of God . . . . [746]

There is a temptation in light of the Bab's eventual claims, to read into the above material a belief in an actual, historical appearance, particularly in those passages which speak of the coming Qá'im's government (dawla, wizára). This is also true of the passage which speaks of the 313 companions of the Qá'im, which because of its detail tends to evoke an actual historical event. At the same time, the Qá'im is described in personal "existential" or ontological terms as the fourth mashhad, which is also called the Fourth Support, "hidden within the souls of the Shí`a". In the commentary on 2:64, quoted above, it seems clear that the Qá'im will return in the world of the Intellects (jabarút). That the more or less abstract notion of Qá'im is identified with the name of a specific "historical" person, need not negate the possibility of its being a spiritual principle. As has been amply demonstrated throughout the preceding pages, the names of the members of the Family of God are very often seen as hypostases of theological or philosophical principles. However, this should not, in turn, obviate ipso facto the possibility that the Qá'im is also expected to appear as a specific individual. As Corbin has insisted, and has become clear by now, particularly with regard to the theory of "signs" found in this commentary, traces of all of the abstract principles have been deposited in the horizons and the souls precisely to enable the individual to realize the "perfect" manifestation of such a principle when it appears.[747]

From those passages discussed in the previous chapter which speak of wijdán, and in light of the clear authority with which the Bab comments on the Qur'án (e.g., wa'l-murád laday al-haqq, or há aná dhákir), it may be thought that the Qá'im was seen by the Bab primarily as an internal principle, but that finally his own experience or "encounter" with this principle was too strong to remain exclusively personal. That the intensity of his inner experience coincided with the Shí`i millenium is of course of primary importance. Such a combination was bound to produce changes in history.

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